Of the many reproductive health issues that can affect women, endometriosis is one of the most common. In the United States alone, about 11% of women in their reproductive years (between the ages of 15 and 44) have endometriosis and experience varying degrees of symptoms, five of which we discuss here.
As gynecology experts, the team here at Tahoe Women’s Care, under the direction of Dr. Gary Willen, understands the many ways endometriosis can impact a woman’s health and wellness, and we want to share some of them here.
Before we get into five of the more common signs of endometriosis, let’s briefly review this common gynecologic condition.
Under normal circumstances, your uterus is lined with endometrial tissues that respond to hormonal changes in your body. Each month, these tissues go through a menstrual cycle in which they thicken in anticipation of receiving a fertilized egg. If an egg doesn’t arrive, the tissues then shed out through your vagina in the form of your period.
With endometriosis, these endometrial tissues grow outside your uterus, often draping themselves over neighboring structures, such as the:
- Fallopian tubes
- Outer surface of your uterus
- Tissues that hold your uterus in place
- Lining of the pelvic space
The problem is that these tissues respond to your hormonal fluctuations each month, except they have nowhere to shed out. As a result, they can turn into adhesions (scar tissues) that cause discomfort and affect the function of your pelvic organs.
Recognizing the symptoms of endometriosis
As you can imagine, endometriosis can lead to a number of symptoms, depending on the extent of the endometrial implants and where they’re located, the most common of which include:
1. Pain during periods
One of the most common complaints among women with endometriosis is pelvic pain, especially during their periods. This is because the endometrial tissues are trying to shed out, to no avail.
2. Pain during intercourse
Outside of menstrual pain, endometriosis can often lead to pain during sex. This pain occurs when endometrial implants are tugged during intercourse, which can lead to a deep, agonizing discomfort.
3. Heavy bleeding and spotting
Women with endometriosis often experience heavy bleeding during their menstrual cycles
and spotting between periods.
Endometriosis is one of the leading drivers of infertility in women. Endometrial implants can interfere with a woman’s ability to conceive, especially if they’re around the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.
5. Gastrointestinal issues
Women with endometriosis often complain about gastrointestinal issues, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and/or excessive gas.
If you recognize any combination of these symptoms, it’s time to come have us check you out. After reviewing your symptoms, we can perform an examination using advanced imaging to determine whether you have problematic endometriosis. And from there, we can get you on the right treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, please contact our office in Carson City, Nevada, to set up an appointment.