Before getting proper treatment for endometriosis, you must get an accurate diagnosis. But, to get that diagnosis, you need to be able to recognize your symptoms. Unfortunately, you may not even realize anything is wrong if your symptoms seem normal for you.
Dr. Christopher Serrano, Dr. Alberto Serrano, and the staff at Serrano OBGYN in San Antonio understand the symptoms of endometriosis and how they can disrupt your life. We’ve treated many women with this often painful condition and know that finding the most effective treatment approach depends on a plethora of individual factors.
In this post, we describe what endometriosis is, six common symptoms, and effective treatments.
What is endometriosis?
You may have heard of endometriosis but still not have a clear understanding of what the condition is.
Your endometrium is the lining of your uterus. Normally, the lining thickens, then sheds during your menstrual cycle. If you have endometriosis, your endometrium grows outside of your uterus. It can cover your ovaries, fallopian tubes, the outside of your uterus, and other organs in your pelvic region.
During the part of your cycle when your endometrium sheds, the parts of it that are outside your uterus have no way to exit your body. This can cause pain and interfere with your physical and sexual health.
To some degree, your symptoms depend on where your endometrium is growing. However, even mild endometriosis can result in symptoms that make your life more difficult than it should be. If you have any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment with us for an evaluation.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
1. Persistent, unexplained pelvic pain
If you have pain in your pelvic region but you don’t know why, you may have endometriosis. This is a common symptom, caused by the endometrium being where it shouldn’t be. This pain can be worse than menstrual cramps and it may get worse with time.
2. Extreme menstrual cramping
Most women experience some menstrual cramping from time to time. Women with endometriosis tend to have extremely bad menstrual cramping that disrupts their lives.
3. Sex hurts
Sexual intercourse can cause pain when your endometrium is growing outside your uterus or around other reproductive organs. It may be simply uncomfortable or it could be downright painful.
4. Heavy bleeding
If your period involves changing your sanitary product more than once an hour, or you have bleeding between your periods, it could be an indication of endometriosis.
5. Painful urination or bowel movements
If your endometrium is affecting the function of your bladder or bowel, both of which are near your uterus, it can cause pain when you urinate or have a bowel movement. The pain may be worse during your period.
One of the most consequential symptoms of endometriosis for some women is infertility. If you’ve been trying to become pregnant and haven’t been able to, it could be because the excess growth of your endometrium is making it difficult for your egg to meet a sperm. Or, the extra tissue may be damaging the egg or sperm.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should talk to Dr. Serrano. Usually, a pelvic exam or ultrasound can confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis, allowing you to begin treatment and hopefully get some relief.
Some women can manage their symptoms with over-the-counter medications, but others need more in-depth treatment, such as:
In some instances, hormones can be used to slow the growth of endometrial tissue. Birth control pills may be a solution, or vaginal rings could deliver the estrogen or progesterone you need for relief.
For some women, surgery is a better option. Removing the excess endometrial tissue could be the best solution to ease your symptoms.
Finding the underlying cause of your symptoms is the best first step toward getting relief. If you have the symptoms discussed in this post, schedule an appointment at Serrano OBGYN.