WTOP | Endometriosis: So Much More Than Period Pain

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While Endometriosis Cannot Fully be Cured, Choosing a GYN Specialist for Removal is an Essential Part of Managing the Condition. Know Your Options.

Imagine living with debilitating and disruptive pain for up to 10 years, before a doctor accurately diagnoses what is happening to you. For the nearly 300 million women worldwide, this is what it’s like living with endometriosis.

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. In March, yellow ribbons signify the call to action to advocate for more research, better treatments, and education about how the disease impacts women’s lives. Knowing the signs of endometriosis, how to get a proper diagnosis, and understanding the best treatment options can empower women to take back their lives.

KNOWING THE ENEMY WITHIN: WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?

Endometriosis is a painful chronic condition that occurs when cells, similar to those in the lining of the uterus, are discovered in the pelvic cavity—or, in rare cases, it can be found in other areas of the body, including the lungs and in the brain. These cells behave like the endometrial lining, so that once a month, during a woman’s cycle, the tissue swells, sheds and bleeds. However, since it has no pathway out of the body, it creates inflammation that can also lead to scarring. If ignored, the pain can become constant.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that up to 50% of women with endometriosis will suffer from infertility. This occurs because the disease can cause severe inflammation in the pelvis. This inflammation can cause scar tissue to form in and around the tubes which prevents the transport of an egg into the uterus during ovulation.

“Many suffer in silence for years before bringing their symptoms to the attention of a healthcare provider. Misdiagnosis often occurs. It is estimated that 3-11 years elapse from the onset of pain to final diagnosis. The frustration, expense, time, and mental exhaustion that women and families experience is undeniable.“ said Dr. Vanessa Sarfoh, CIGC physician.

Signs of endometriosis include:

  • Painful cramps or localized pain in the pelvis
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Difficulty going to the bathroom (pain with bowel movements, blood in urine or stools during menstrual cycle)
  • Low back pain
  • Pain during sex

Despite a history of endometriosis in her family (her mother had it on her liver), Lauren’s  doctors dismissed her symptoms: “I asked if my endometriosis could be attaching to other areas, but all of my doctors whether GP, OBGYN or the ER doctors said no, that it would only attach to the woman parts.”