Coping with endometriosis
Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 8:03 pm
By: Richard N. Waldman, M.D., Special to The Press
By Richard N.
Special to The Press
Up to 50 percent of child-bearing-age women struggle with endometriosis, a condition that can cause mild to severe pelvic pain before and during menstruation and can lead to infertility in women. Endometriosis is most common among women in their 30s and 40s, but it can occur in menstruating women of any age. Women who have never had children and those who have a mother, sister, or daughter with endometriosis may be at increased risk.
In a normal menstrual cycle, endometrial cells thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation of supporting a fertilized egg. If no egg implants, the lining sheds off during menstruation. In most women, a small amount of endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen or travels through blood and lymph vessels. Endometriosis occurs when these cells attach to other places such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, rectum, intestines, bladder, ureters, and the surface of the uterus. The misplaced cells behave just like the endometrial cells inside the uterus—they may bleed before and during menstruation and cause scar tissue to develop.
Women with endometriosis may experience pain during sex, urination, or bowel movements, before or during menstruation, or may have menstrual bleeding more than once a month. Some women do not have symptoms and may be first be diagnosed when they have trouble getting pregnant.
Endometriosis can only be truly confirmed through surgery. Your doctor may prescribe ibuprofen, naproxen, or other pain-relief drugs. Birth control pills may be prescribed to control the menstrual cycle and shrink areas of endometriosis.
Other hormonal methods such as progestin or gonadotropin-releasing hormones may be used, but they can cause side effects, such as hot flashes, loss of bone density, bloating, headaches, vaginal dryness, mood changes, sexual problems, and weight gain. by the disorder.
Many women report improvement in their symptoms after menopause.