Many women around the world are affected by a condition that can cause debilitating pain that is often dismissed as severe period cramps when they suffer from something else entirely. Endometriosis is a collection of tissue that comes from the endometrium and grows outside of the uterine walls. This tissue can attach itself to areas like the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or other pelvic regions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 10 percent of reproductive-age women are affected by endometriosis.
This condition is incredibly painful for women and can cause painful cramping during menstruation, pain outside of cycles, GI distress, or pain during intercourse, bowel movements, or urination. Some women also find difficulty working or experience infertility issues associated with endometriosis. Oftentimes these symptoms are initially dismissed as painful periods and some women can suffer for years from untreated pelvic pain before seeking a diagnosis. In fact, endometriosis is most often diagnosed for women in their 30s and 40s.
Endometriosis is a condition diagnosed by exclusion, meaning your doctor will consider your presenting symptoms and exclude other causes of those symptoms before settling on endometriosis, kind of like a medical process of elimination. This process includes tests like a pelvic exam and ultrasound to rule out other conditions which could also be a source for pelvic pain. Once testing is complete, physicians will have a better idea of their patient’s condition moving forward.
While there is no cure for the condition, there are treatment options available to decrease your symptoms and pain. Treatment for endometriosis differs from patient to patient. For women who aren’t trying to get pregnant, forms of hormonal birth control like pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs). For those who are trying to get pregnant, some medications can help decrease your symptoms as well. Surgery is also an option, however not recommended. In some cases, usually those with severe symptoms, surgeons can operate to remove the endometriosis directly from the pelvic area; however, this procedure can also leave behind scar tissue which can cause pain for the patient. Surgery also doesn’t guarantee that the endometriosis will not come back, which is why most physicians will offer birth control or medication options first.
When it comes to endometriosis, management is key. In addition to treatment, eating a healthy diet and regular exercise can also offer women relief from their symptoms.
“Continue to seek care to help manage symptoms and get relief of pain,” said Christina Gonzalez-Wilson, a women’s health nurse practitioner at TPMG Obstetrics and Gynecology in Hampton. No one should have to suffer through endometriosis pain without treatment. Talk to a TPMG provider today about how you can find some relief.
About Christina Gonzalez-Wilson, DNP, WHNP
Christina Gonzalez-Wilson, DNP, WHNP, is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner in Hampton at TPMG Obstetrics & Gynecology. As a women’s health nurse practitioner, Christina is dedicated to establishing patient-provider relationships rooted in strong communication and takes an individualized approach to care. Christina has over 15 years of experience specializing in women’s health. She treats a variety of conditions, such as dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) in perimenopausal women and fertility issues.