The first step in diagnosing and treating endometriosis is knowing the symptoms. Since symptoms can affect every woman differently, knowing what endometriosis feels like can be difficult. Endometriosis is a disorder that causes the lining of the uterus to grow in places outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or intestines. It is a common condition affecting between two and ten percent of American women of childbearing age, but there are treatment options to help ease symptoms.
Common Endometriosis Symptoms
Period cramps can be tough, but for women with endometriosis, the pain can be incredibly intense. In fact, some women refer to the pain from endometriosis as “killer cramps” because it can be severe enough to stop you in your tracks. For many, this pain worsens with age. Pain can also happen elsewhere, including:
- Pelvis or belly
- During Intercourse
- Bowel movements
Keep in mind this pain may not be limited to your period—with endometriosis, it can happen all throughout your cycle. Other endometriosis symptoms can include:
- Long or heavy periods
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Severe migraines or lower back pain
- Pain when you urinate
- Allergies that worsen around your period
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Blood in your urine or from your rectum
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Trouble getting pregnant
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Endometriosis can range from mild to severe. Your symptoms may give your doctor an idea that you have endometriosis, but laparoscopy is the only way to diagnose endometriosis correctly. During this procedure, performed under a general anesthetic, your doctor will use a thin telescopic tube to examine exactly where endometrial tissue has spread. Depending on the location, depth, size and amount of tissue, your endometriosis can be categorized by stage:
- Stage 1 or minimal – there are a few small lesions on your organs or the tissue lining your pelvis or abdomen with minimal to no scar tissue.
- Stage 2 or mild – there are more lesions than in stage 1, and they are deeper in the tissue, presenting with some scar tissue.
- Stage 3 or moderate – there are many deep lesions, possibly presenting with small cysts on one or both ovaries and thick bands of scar tissue called adhesions.
- Stage 4 or severe – this is the most widespread with many deep lesions and thick adhesions with large cysts on one or both ovaries.
Endometriosis Treatment Options at Coyle Institute
Coyle Institute is known for our personalized treatment approaches that provide worthwhile results, often without surgery. When it comes to endometriosis, there is no cure, but we can provide the very best treatments available to relieve the symptoms and manage the problems directly related to endometriosis. Several factors need to be considered to best determine a plan of action. These factors include the desire to avoid surgery and any future hopes of pregnancy, both of which will guide us in which of these options we choose to pursue:
- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) – Research shows that stabilizing hormonal fluctuations not only prevents the development of new endometrial lesions but can also help support ideal hormone levels to achieve pregnancy. With a simple saliva sample, we can assess your hormone levels and correct any deficiencies that may be causing endometriosis symptoms by prescribing natural BHRT.
- Hormone agonists – Hormone agonists can be prescribed to block the hormones needed for the ovaries to make sex hormones. By blocking these hormones, symptoms of endometriosis can be alleviated.
- Hormonal birth control – Some women find that hormonal birth control can help relieve endometriosis pain and it may reduce the growth of lesions. It works best in women who do not have severe symptoms.
- Surgery – Endometriosis surgery is generally only suggested for women with more severe symptoms who have not seen any relief using hormonal methods. Although it is a last line of defense, we are extremely experienced in performing minimally-invasive surgical interventions for endometriosis at Coyle Institute.
We know how debilitating endometriosis can be. If you are ready to take action and do something about your symptoms, call us for an appointment today at 850-637-8258.