Endometriosis is a widespread health problem that plagues women. Statistics show that more than 6.5 million women suffer from this condition in this country, which is 11 percent of the female population.
From the onset of puberty into adulthood, it’s essential to have consistent checkups with your gynecologist. These doctors specialize in women’s health, and they can easily spot the signs and symptoms of female disorders that can cause fertility.
What Is Endometriosis?
The complexity of the female reproductive system makes it ideal to conceive and nurture a baby for nine months. Each month, fresh eggs from your ovaries travel down the fallopian tubes to your uterus or womb. The unique uterine cells create a soft, velvety layer for an egg to attach while waiting for fertilization.
If the egg is fertilized by male sperm, the new cell is cradled in the endometrial lining and will grow into a fetus. When no fertilization occurs, your uterus purges the eggs and sheds its internal lining in a monthly process called menstruation. The womb is cleansed and ready for next month’s egg delivery.
Women who have endometriosis do not shed their womb’s lining normally. Instead, these specialized uterine cells build up and can grow on organs outside of the womb’s walls. Endometrial layers can block the fallopian tubes and the entrance of the cervix, causing infertility.
Doctors are not sure what causes this often-painful condition. Studies have shown that endometrial problems often run in families. While surgery and hormone treatments help some women, sometimes the only cure is a hysterectomy.
Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
Have any women in your family been diagnosed with this painful disorder? Sometimes, you may have it without even knowing. However, if you notice any of these 15 symptoms, it is time to schedule a visit to your gynecologist.
1. Constant Pain in Your Pelvic Area
Do you deal with pelvic pain right before or after your period? Gynecologists often hear this common complaint. Even if you have been diagnosed with PMS, your painful pelvic area may be a sign of an endometrial disorder.
The overgrowth of uterine cells affects surrounding organs and often causes stabbing pain in around your lower stomach and pelvic area. Any chronic discomfort in this area must be evaluated.
2. Pelvic Pain and Bleeding After Intercourse
Vaginal dryness and other hormonally induced issues can cause painful intercourse and occasional bleeding. When the pain is excruciating, chronic, and is present every time you have sex, then your doctors need to know. Your vagina may be irritated with endometrial overgrowths, which causes bleeding and pain with any contact.
3. Having Bad Cramps During Intercourse
Period cramps are painful and plague many women. However, some ladies get these cramps when they are having sex.
These painful episodes may cause spotting, and the pain continues after the encounter. Your gynecologist can examine you to see if an overgrowth of endometrial cells is the cause.
4. Bowel Movements are Causing Pain
Having cramping sensations during bowel movements is commonplace, and countless reasons can cause it. If you have problems with constipation, you are probably used to occasional spasms. However, it can also be the endometrial cells invading your bowels.
5. Having Pain and Cramps While Urinating
It is also normal for women to battle yeast and urinary tract infections. These frustrating conditions are notorious for causing pelvic cramps and burning sensations when urinating.
If you are having painful cramps with urination, your doctor will first try to rule out a urinary tract infection or a yeast infection. Your doctor may consider endometriosis and conduct further testing. The displaced endometrial cells can cause painful cramps that mimic other disorders.
6. Experiencing Female Infertility
One of the most devastating effects of the endometrial disease is infertility. Distraught couples in America spend millions of dollars each year to diagnose and treat infertility in hopes of conceiving a baby. Artificial insemination and other expensive treatments, as well as adoption, maybe the only option.
Have you and your partner experienced the heartbreaking journey of infertility? There has probably been a litany of physical exams and tests to pinpoint the cause. During your examination, the gynecologist will look for endometrial overgrowths, called implants.
Endometrial implants can wreak havoc on a woman’s reproductive system, which affects egg production in the ovaries. They can also change the fallopian tubes and cervical entrance, thus blocking the path to viable fertilization. Moreover, these implants may cause hormone imbalances, affecting your periods and making conception impossible.
7. Beat Down with Chronic Fatigue
How do you feel after juggling a career, family, and other responsibilities every day? No wonder so many women struggle with overwhelming exhaustion. While it is normal to feel worn out with so many burdens, all it may take is some rest to recharge your battery.
What about that crushing tiredness that won’t lift, regardless of how much you sleep? Some women have explained chronic fatigue as severe exhaustion of the soul. It is often accompanied by frequent aches, pains, depression, and anxiety.
Modern medicine has yet to discover what causes chronic fatigue and how to cure it effectively. It is a debilitating symptom of a myriad of disorders, including endometriosis. Some specialists believe that the hormone imbalances caused by endometrial implants may be responsible for chronic fatigue and its symptoms.
8. Having Painful Gynecological Examinations
No one enjoys a trip to the gynecologist. Discussing sexuality and female problems is embarrassing. The examination is not comfortable, either. Being placed in stirrups and exposed to the medical staff is humiliating.
However, don’t let this common hesitation keep you from regular gynecological checkups. A routine examination can save your life. It isn’t unusual for most women to feel a little pain during the poking and prodding of a pap smear. If it is intense, your doctor may suspect endometrial implants as the culprit.
9. Seeing Blood in Your Urine
A scarlet tinge of blood in your urine outside of your period time can be concerning. It can be caused by sexual activity or a urinary tract infection. While it’s common, making a doctor’s appointment would be wise.
Another reason why some women have blood in their urine is from endometrial implants. If tests for urinary tract infections and other conditions are negative, you may have endometriosis.
10. Chronic Bowel Problems
You may have occasional bouts with diarrhea or constipation, which may worsen during your period. The usual culprits are your eating habits, some medications, or underlying medical conditions. These bowel conditions can also be signs of endometrial problems, so be sure to discuss them with your gynecologist at your next appointment.
11. Experiencing Heavy and Painful Periods
Menstruation problems are often hereditary and can wreak havoc on you every month. PMS and other gynecological conditions can cause heavy blood flow and excruciating pelvic pain that may last past your period. If you are being treated for a condition by your doctor, ask about the possibilities of having endometriosis.
12. Dealing with Lower Back Pain
What could be more miserable than lower back pain that hurts whether you stand, sit, or lie down? Throbbing lower back muscles may be the result of lifting, exercising, or a hidden kidney infection. Endometrial conditions can also make your lower back ache terribly.
13. Lower Abdominal Pain that Won’t Go Away
Abdominal pain can be caused by unhealthy eating, digestion issues, and a host of other conditions. If you have heavy periods, they may be accompanied by pain in your lower gut. A gynecological exam may reveal that endometriosis is the cause.
14. Disruption of Periods
Wouldn’t it be great if women didn’t have to bother with periods? Unfortunately, irregular periods can be just as complicated as monthly ones. If you have endometrial scarring in your ovaries and uterus, your whole cycle can be disrupted, causing heavy flows and pelvic pain.
15. Rare Symptoms of Endometrial Implants
Although invasive endometrial cells are usually contained in the pelvic area, implants have been known to attack other major organs, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. Since so many disorders are similar, only a specialist could determine if endometriosis is responsible.
Final Thoughts: Endometriosis Treatment Options
Endometriosis is one of the common women’s health complaints. Laparoscopic exploration is the only definitive way your doctor can make the diagnosis. If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your gynecologist as soon as possible.
Once the endometrial implants have attached, they don’t go away on their own. If the condition is not severe, then a doctor will use a tool to burn the endometrioses. If that is not possible, then the only other option is a hysterectomy.
Dealing with endometriosis is very difficult. However, you must report any abnormal pains to your doctor right away. It’s easier to treat this condition before it spreads beyond the uterine walls and affects other areas of the body.