Reproductive health conditions come in many different forms, but women are experiencing endometriosis at a higher rate than in years past. Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally grows in the uterus transplants itself elsewhere in the body, leading to tissue buildup that causes a wide range of symptoms and side effects. Because living with endometriosis can be a true challenge, doctors want women to know some of the basics surrounding the condition – and what can be done about it.
Endometriosis is Common
You may have never heard of endometriosis, but that does not mean it isn’t widespread. The common health condition impacts one in every ten women throughout the world, with a reported 200,000 cases diagnosed in the United States alone each year. Most women who develop endometriosis are diagnosed in their early to late 20s or 30s, although the condition may develop later in life as well.
It Doesn’t Always Mean Pain
One of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is a persistent and severe pain, typically around the time of menstruation. However, not all women experience noticeable pain above and beyond cramping during their period. Those with endometriosis may not know they have the condition because other symptoms, including bloating, vomiting, and fatigue are present without pain. Some women may also have muscle and backaches during other times of the month which may not trigger the thought of endometriosis at all.
Diagnosis Isn’t Easy
A reason endometriosis has received so much attention from the medical community in the last decade is because many women do not receive a correct diagnosis at the early onset of symptoms. A group of medical negligence specialists explains that endometriosis is often perceived as a woman’s issue, with pain and other symptoms chocked up to no more than standard period discomfort. When this perception is in action, women are told to manage their symptoms with at-home remedies, like rest, heating pads, and pain medication. Without a doctor who understands endometriosis and the potential severity of the disease, an accurate diagnosis can take several years to secure.
Getting a Second Opinion is Helpful
While some patients may feel as though doctors are not keen on them visiting another medical professional, cases of endometriosis often require an appointment with a specialist in the field. Endometriosis is a complex condition that can lead to devastating outcomes when not treated properly, in a timely fashion. Because of this, many doctors encourage women to consult with another provider when the initial diagnosis received and treatment recommended is not helping ease symptoms or improving quality of life.
It Can be the Reason for Infertility
While pain is the most prevalent symptom of endometriosis, many women also come to find that their inability or difficulty in conceiving a child is due to the health issue. The tissue that grows outside the uterus builds up over time and makes it difficult to get pregnant, especially for older women. Infertility takes place in an estimated one-third of women with endometriosis. However, women with the condition may still be able to have children with medical intervention.
There is no Clear Cause
The problems with misdiagnosis among women with endometriosis have been linked to the reality that there is no singular cause for the disease. Recent research suggests that women with higher levels of estrogen may be more prone to develop endometriosis as they age, but this increased hormone is not the only culprit. Other studies connect endometriosis with hereditary health issues, increased caffeine intake, not giving birth before a certain age, and other health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and uterine abnormalities.
Treatment is Available
It may seem as though endometriosis comes with many negatives, but there are a handful of treatment options available for women who receive a correct diagnosis. The most severe cases of endometriosis are typically recommended for laparoscopic surgery which works to remove built-up tissue that has grown outside the uterus. For others, pain medication and lifestyle changes help to reduce the severity of symptoms over time. There are also fertility treatments available for women who experience problems getting pregnant due to endometriosis. So long as a diagnosis is provided that is both accurate and timely, women living with endometriosis have options for treating symptoms and living a relatively normal life.