Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that is similar to the endometrial tissue that normally grows in the cavity of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus, in areas of the pelvis such as the ovaries, pelvic walls, or between the uterus and the rectum. Endometriosis can cause uncomfortable side effects, like extreme pelvic pain, irregular menstrual bleeding, and pain during intercourse. Although an estimated 1 in 10 women in childbearing age are diagnosed with endometriosis, there are still many misconceptions out there. An expert in endometriosis, Dr. Karen Tang of Axia Women’s Health – Center for Gynecologic Surgery helps reveal the truths about this condition and offers advice on how and when to seek help.
MYTH: It’s normal to experience severe pain with your periods.
FACT: While it is common to experience mild cramping with your period, more severe pain that impacts your ability to carry on with your day is not! You shouldn’t have to suffer in silence every month. If you’re experiencing severe pain with your periods, it’s important to seek help.
MYTH: Endometriosis is just a really bad period.
FACT: Endometriosis is a pelvic disorder that can impact many aspects of your health. The most common symptoms of endometriosis include pain with periods, pain with bowel movements, pain during intercourse, and irregular bleeding. If you are told that these are “normal” period symptoms, they’re not! Endometriosis is a real disease that can impact your entire pelvic floor and uterus.
MYTH: Every woman with endometriosis will experience pain.
FACT: While pain is a common symptom, studies have shown that endometriosis can present differently from person to person. That’s why it’s important to keep up with your annual gynecologic exam to give your provider the best chance at finding and addressing the disease.
MYTH: Endometriosis is a rare condition.
FACT: Endometriosis is actually a fairly common condition, but often undiagnosed. Endometriosis symptoms are often dismissed as part of a typical period, with most women waiting an estimated seven years before a proper diagnosis. 1 in 10 women may have endometriosis.
MYTH: Endometriosis doesn’t impact your chances of conceiving.
FACT: Endometriosis is in fact, a common cause of infertility. Up to 50% of women experiencing endometriosis are diagnosed with infertility. But, this shouldn’t discourage you. There are options that can help, including surgical procedures to remove endometrial lesions prior to beginning treatment. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the most successful fertility treatment options for those with endometriosis, and is the most successful treatment overall.
MYTH: Endometriosis will naturally improve after menopause.
FACT: Although rare, endometriosis can persist after menopause in some cases. The myth here is based on the knowledge that the hormone estrogen is responsible for causing the endometrial tissue to grow. During menopause, our estrogen levels decline. While a decline in estrogen may result in lesser symptoms, this isn’t always the case. For some women with more severe endometriosis, there may still be enough estrogen in the body to cause the symptoms to persist.
MYTH: Endometriosis can’t be treated.
FACT: Surgery and certain medications can alleviate symptoms. Endometriosis is a treatable condition, with diagnosis made by laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive option that uses a small camera to determine if endometrial lesions are present and allows the surgeon to safely remove any visible endometriosis. There are also a variety of treatment options that can help endometriosis symptoms, including birth control, progesterone IUDs or anti-inflammatory medications.
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