Endometriosis occurs when endometrial cells (cells forming the endometrial lining in the uterus) grow outside of the uterine cavity. This tissue can be found on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, on the exterior lining of the uterus, the bladder and elsewhere in the pelvic cavity. About 11% of all women have some degree of endometriosis.
The large majority of women with endometriosis will not experience infertility. However, endometriosis is one of the most common causes of female infertility in the United States. The complications arising from endometriosis can make it difficult for the egg to pass through the fallopian tubes, or for the fertilized egg to implant and develop into a healthy baby. According to RESOLVE, researchers have also noticed a link between endometriosis and a luteal phase defect that is caused by low progesterone levels.
The Sooner You’re Diagnosed the Better
The sooner women are aware they have endometriosis, the sooner they can treat it. The most typical treatment is the use of birth control pills. More severe cases may require hormone therapy or surgical treatment to remove tubal scarring or blockages.
An official diagnosis will make it easier for your OB or fertility specialist to choose the right fertility treatment if conception becomes a challenge.
Do You Experience Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Sometimes, women with endometriosis become so accustomed to their symptoms, they don’t know they’re experiencing atypical menstrual pain or other discomforts.
The most common symptoms include:
- Severe menstrual cramps, with cramps so severe they don’t respond to over-the-counter NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
- Heavy bleeding during periods (i.e. needing to change tampons or pads every one- to two-hours)
- Chronic pelvic and/or lower back pain
- Periods that last longer than a week
- Pain during sexual intercourse or penetration
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Nausea or vomiting
- Bowel problems such as frequent constipation, diarrhea or discomfort/pain
- Bloody urine or stool
If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN and share your suspicions with him/her. Endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed. In some women, it can take an average of 10-years to get an accurate diagnosis if you don’t act as your own advocate.
Ask Yourself 5 Questions
If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, and you’re trying to conceive, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist.
- Do I have periods that are heavier and/or more painful than my friends?
- Is sex often painful, particularly during deeper penetration?
- Does my mother or sister have endometriosis or similar, extreme period symptoms like I do?
- Do I have back or pelvic pain during my periods that don’t seem to abate with normal doses of over-the-counter pain meds?
- Do I seem to have bowel issues or discomfort during my period or around the time that I ovulate?
You Can Support Endometriosis and Healthy Pelvic Health at Home
Some of these symptoms may come as a surprise since they don’t seem related to periods. However, there are two things to remember about endometriosis:
Endometriosis causes an inflammatory response
Over time, chronic inflammation affects the entirety of the pelvic region. It also taxes the immune system because hyper-inflammation tires it and compromises its ability to do its job efficiently. Loss of blood from all that excess tissue combined with chronic inflammation also causes general fatigue.
One of the best things you can do if you suspect you have endometriosis, have been diagnoses and/or are trying to conceive is to eat a healthy diet that supports healthy immune system function and reduces inflammation.
Endometrial lining can wind up in surprising places
As we noted above, doctors have found endometrial lining in surprising places. That’s why you can experience blood in the urine (endometrial cells could be on your bladder) or in the stool (they could also be in your colon).
Are you experiencing symptoms of endometriosis as well as having a hard time conceiving? It may be worth skipping your gynecologist altogether and scheduling an appointment with the Fertility Center of Dallas. We’ll be able to determine whether you have endometriosis and/or other infertility factors via streamlined and accurate fertility testing.