Endometriosis: Is that period pain just period pain?

Endometriosis is a debilitating condition that occurs in women and causes extreme pain, painful sex, heavy periods and in some cases, infertility. This condition can completely compromise a woman’s day to day activities and sometimes, relationships.

Most women who have endometriosis do not know they have it, as it is usually thought to just be bouts of painful periods.

The condition has a very high misdiagnosis rate of about 75 percent of which the patients are falsely diagnosed of another physical or mental health condition. It averagely also takes a long time — up to 9 years for most patients to be properly diagnosed of the disease.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a very painful condition where tissues similar to the tissues that line the inside of a woman’s womb (uterus) begin to grow outside of the womb. These tissues are normally not expected to be found in these areas. Areas commonly involved include the fallopian tubes, ovaries and the pelvis.

During normal periods, only the tissues lining the inside of the womb sheds. But with endometriosis, the tissues growing outside of the uterus also thicken and shed during every menstrual cycle.

Who can experience it?

Any woman/girl that has menstrual periods can experience it. It commonly affects women between 25 to 40 years. Women that have not started having or have stopped having menstrual cycles cannot have endometriosis.

What causes the debilitating pain in endometriosis?

The external tissues outside of the uterus that grow and shed with every menstrual cycle do not have a way of exiting the body. This usually results in inflammation of the surrounding tissues and can cause extreme pain. The pain is usually experienced in a different pattern from normal menstrual cramps. This pain is usually extreme and can begin several days before the period and continue to intensify as the menstrual cycle progresses. Normal period pains begin on the first day of the period and peaks when the period is at maximum.

What are the other symptoms associated?

Lower back pain during periods and pain during sex are other symptoms associated with it.

Another major symptoms which especially results in the diagnosis of endometriosis for most women is infertility. This infertility usually results when the external tissue growths begin to block the fallopian tubes (where eggs travel through to get to the womb).

What is the major difference between endometriosis and period pains?

The major difference between endometriosis and period pain is that endometriosis is debilitating. “Debilitating”. This word simply means inability to function. Women living with this disease usually cannot function well or carry out normal day to day activities when experiencing these pains.

Also, regular period pains can mostly be managed with pain medications while endometriosis pain cannot.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

It should be noted that severity of period pain is not enough to diagnose endometriosis. A qualified medical personnel, usually a gynecologist will need to perform a series of examinations to properly diagnose the disease. Some of the examinations include a pelvic examination, ultrasound and MRI scans.

The most effective way to diagnose endometriosis is laparoscopy.

How can endometriosis be managed?

Endometriosis can majorly be managed through hormonal therapy and surgery. The hormonal drugs work to lower the estrogen level and can ultimately terminate a woman’s period. This will help to reduce the inflammation and pain. They are mostly contraceptive pills.

Surgery can be beneficial especially in cases of infertility. Laparoscopy can be done to remove scarred tissues. This is advisable to be carried out at the same time of diagnosis. In some cases, hysterectomy can also be recommended to completely remove the womb, ovaries and cervix.

In summary

It averagely takes a very long time for a woman to be properly diagnosed of this condition because most women assume they are experiencing regular period pains. It is important to see your physician if you’re experiencing debilitating pain during periods and the other associated symptoms such as painful sex and lower back pain.


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