Your uterus is a much more complicated organ than you may realize. It has a lining called the endometrium, which is essential when it comes to your menstrual cycle and reproduction. Each month during your period, your endometrium breaks down and bleeds away, then during your next cycle, it regrows.
When you have endometriosis, your endometrium grows in places it shouldn’t, such as outside your uterus. That can be painful, as well as pose health problems.
At McDowell Mountain Gynecology, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, our expert providers treat many people with endometriosis and understand the physical and emotional impact of this painful condition. The most appropriate treatment for endometriosis depends on a host of highly variable, individual factors. We evaluate your situation based on your medical history, symptoms, the severity of your condition, and your overall goals.
Researchers aren’t sure why some women develop endometriosis but others don’t. If you have endometriosis, your uterine lining grows outside your uterus. The most common places the endometrium grows is in the Fallopian tubes, ovaries, or other tissue in your pelvis.
Even though it’s outside your uterus, your endometrium still continues to cycle through normal menstrual changes, thickening and breaking down, followed by bleeding.
Since this extra tissue may not have a way to leave your body, menstrual blood stays trapped, irritating surrounding tissue, causing cysts, adhesions, and scars over time. For some women, that leads to severe pain during your period. Additionally, cysts, adhesions, and scarring can cause problems with fertility.
Here we review five common symptoms of endometriosis.
Heavy periods are common and don’t mean you have endometriosis. However, if you note clots becoming more frequent or if heavy periods remain even after steps to treat them, endometriosis may be a contributor.
Perhaps the most classic sign of endometriosis is menstrual pain that resists hormonal treatment, such as birth control pills or relief with anti-inflammatory medications. However, you may experience menstrual pain without endometriosis, and not all women with endometriosis have pain. Period symptoms provide only clues. They can’t confirm the condition.
Although your endometrium is a critical part of your reproductive system and associated with your uterus, endometriosis may not cause pain in your pelvis, and your symptoms may not follow your menstrual cycle.
When discharge from endometrial tissue collects where it can’t drain, you may feel pain in places you might not associate with pelvic organs. Your back, groin, or rectum may experience unusual pain. Blood-filled cysts, called endometriomas, may form and rupture, causing extreme pain.
Endometriosis may cause problems with your digestive system. For example, you may have painful bowel movements, become constipated, have diarrhea, or experience other symptoms related to digestion.
Irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis share numerous symptoms, which can make getting a correct diagnosis difficult for some women.
A common symptom of endometriosis is pain during sex that may last as long as 24 hours following intercourse. You may feel pain when you have an orgasm but not realize that the pain is related to your other symptoms.
Although endometriosis can cause extreme pain, it can also create mild symptoms or even none at all. You may have endometriosis without knowing it, and later, symptoms start appearing slowly, becoming worse over time.
If you have the symptoms mentioned in this post, or you feel that something just isn’t right, schedule an appointment at McDowell Mountain Gynecology. We can evaluate your symptoms and suggest treatments that may help.