Endometriosis is a common source of pelvic pain for many women. It is believed that at least 6 million women in the US and as many as 200 million women worldwide have endometriosis.
Endometriosis happens when the endometrial tissue, which is the lining of the uterus, ends up growing outside…
of the uterus and onto other areas in the abdominal cavity, like the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the vagina, or the bowels. It becomes problematic for women because it can cause adhesions on the tissue and the tissue cannot be as mobile as it should be. This can cause many different types of pain and problems.
Unfortunately right now, the cause of endometriosis is unknown. We don’t really know why certain women get it and certain women don’t. However, the symptoms are very well known.
Painful menstrual cramps are one of the biggest symptoms associated with endometriosis. Chronic low back pain, pelvic pain, pain during or after intercourse, bleeding or spotting during periods, and digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and nausea are symptoms that are also related to endometriosis. All of these symptoms are most commonly experienced during menstruation.
Endometriosis can also make it harder for a woman to get pregnant. Any women or girl who has menstrual periods is vulnerable to having endometriosis. Endometriosis is more common in the age group of about 25 to 35 years old, but that doesn’t mean if you are outside that age group, it can’t affect you.
Right now, there is no known cure for endometriosis. But there are several treatment options out there, including birth control or other hormonal treatments. So, that’s definitely something to talk to your doctor about as far as either birth control, hormonal treatments or medications. There are also different surgical options that are available, but seek out an experienced surgeon who works with endometriosis to discuss these options.
Another helpful partner is a pelvic physical therapist. At Legacy Physical Therapy, we work often with women who are dealing with endometriosis. Not that we can cure their endometriosis as physical therapists, but we can identify tissue restrictions and movement restrictions. We can also recommend stretching, exercises, and different activities that you can do to help improve your quality of life and decrease the pain that you’re feeling in order to make things feel more comfortable.
So, what can you do if you think that you may be dealing with endometriosis? Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it takes several years to get diagnosed. A lot of women are misdiagnosed or honestly, just kind of live with the pain and the problems for years before they find out what is truly going on.
If you suspect that you may have endometriosis, then it’s really important that you track your symptoms diligently to know- especially where those symptoms fall in relationship your menstrual cycle. Tracking symptoms will help your healthcare practitioners tease out if your symptoms are related to endometriosis.
Just know that you should not be suffering in silence. So please, do reach out and talk to your healthcare practitioners.
We want to also mention 6 symptoms that you should watch for. These do not mean that you automatically have endometriosis, but these are symptoms that no women should be living with.
- Painful periods. specifically pain that lasts longer than the span of 2 days. Many women have discomfort during their period, but it shouldn’t be lasting for prolonged periods of time.
- Pain is so severe, that it’s making you want to curl up in the fetal position, even if it is just for a day of your period, that pain is way too severe. That is not a normal feeling that you should be experiencing when you have your periods.
- If you are experiencing pain along with vomiting or severe GI symptoms, that’s another sign that there may be something wrong and it’s affecting the digestive tract.
- Pain with intercourse, especially with deeper penetration, is a common symptom of endometriosis, but again it’s not normal.
- If you have pain with your bowel movements or get constipated more during your periods, that is not normal.
- Increased gas or bloating during your period, that too is not normal.
So these 6 things are all signs that you may be dealing with endometriosis. And for sure, if you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, you should be talking to your doctor about it. If you feel like you are not being heard by your medical practitioner, please seek out another one to talk to because your symptoms are real and we want to make sure that you are not suffering in silence.
If you have any questions about how physical therapy can help your symptoms of endometriosis, please call our office at 636-225-3649 to speak with one of our specialists.