If have been experiencing chronic pelvic pain, especially before and during your menstrual period, you may have endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the tissue — known as endometrium — lining your uterus grows outside your uterus.
Women with endometriosis may have endometrial tissue growing in or around their ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, cervix, rectum, bowel, bladder, or other places.
Our providers at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton have extensive experience diagnosing and treating endometriosis. We work hard to educate women about this common health condition and to offer treatment solutions that reduce chronic pelvic pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Here are some important facts about endometriosis that we’d like to share with you.
Endometriosis is a fairly common health condition. It strikes about five million women in the US. That’s about one in 10 women of reproductive age. Symptoms most often appear in women in their 30s and 40s.
Impacted by hormonal changes
Endometrial tissue responds to the normal monthly changes in your estrogen levels. Even when it grows outside your uterus, it can build up, break down, and bleed just as it does inside your uterus. It can also become inflamed, swollen, and irritated, causing pain.
Over time, endometriosis can lead to adhesions, which are buildups of scar tissue. Adhesions can cause your internal organs to stick together.
Connected to infertility
For some women, endometriosis can cause infertility. In fact, 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis.
Endometrial tissue can contribute to infertility in several ways. Inflammation linked to endometriosis can damage eggs or sperm. And excess endometrial tissue or adhesions can block fallopian tubes, preventing eggs from traveling successfully from your ovaries to your uterus.
Surgically removing excess tissue and adhesions may improve a woman’s odds of getting pregnant.
A range of symptoms
Although not every woman with endometriosis experiences pain, most do. Pain symptoms include heavy menstrual cramping, pelvic and low-back pain, and pain during or after sex.
Endometriosis can also cause other symptoms, depending on where endometrial tissue grows.
For example, if it’s around the bladder or bowels, you may feel pain when urinating or passing bowel movements. Or you may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting around the time of your periods.
And because endometrial tissue may bleed during menstruation, women with endometriosis often experience especially heavy bleeding during their periods.
Family history may play a part
Generally, women have a higher likelihood of having endometriosis when one or more of their close female relatives have it.
To determine whether you have endometriosis, your providers here at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton can perform imaging tests such as an ultrasound or an MRI. Or we may recommend a diagnostic surgical laparoscopy. During this procedure, we remove small samples of tissue and send them for laboratory analysis.
Endometriosis treatment strategies vary based on your symptoms, how much endometrial tissue you have, whether you’re having trouble getting pregnant, and other factors.
Treatment options include pain medications, hormone-based medications, and surgery. As a last resort, we can perform a hysterectomy to remove your uterus, but this is usually not necessary.
If you think you may have endometriosis, or if you experience chronic pelvic pain, heavy periods, or other menstrual discomforts, call Women’s Healthcare of Princeton for an appointment. Or while you’re here, just click the “book online” button to schedule a visit. Our care team will help diagnose the cause of your pain and offer treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms.