The uterus is a fascinating organ that performs many important functions. The lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, is essential for menstruation and reproduction. Each month, the endometrium sheds, and then during the next cycle, it regenerates. When you have endometriosis, the endometrium grows in places it shouldn't, such as outside the uterus, causing pain and posing health problems.
At the Center for Women’s Health, our board-certified OB/GYN providers have helped many women with endometriosis get their lives back on track. The most appropriate treatment for endometriosis depends on a variety of individual factors. We take all of these into account when creating a treatment plan tailored specifically for you.
Researchers have yet to uncover the underlying cause of endometriosis. It is likely caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you have endometriosis, your uterine lining grows outside your uterus, the most common places being in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or other tissue in your pelvis.
Even though it’s outside your uterus, the rogue endometrial tissue continues to go through normal menstrual changes, thickening and breaking down, followed by bleeding each month.
Over time, this leads to problems, such as cysts, adhesions, and scars that can cause pain and fertility issues.
5 signs of endometriosis
Here we review five common symptoms of endometriosis.
1. Menstrual cycle symptoms
Although endometriosis is associated with heavy periods, that doesn't mean you have the condition. If you're noticing clots becoming more frequent, or if your heavy periods remain even after taking steps to treat them, endometriosis may be the cause.
Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose, as many of its symptoms overlap with other conditions. However, one of the classic signs of the disease is menstrual pain that doesn't respond to treatment. This type of pain can be debilitating for many women, but it's important to remember that not all women with endometriosis experience pain.
Additionally, other symptoms, such as heavy periods or period pain that occurs beyond your monthly cycle, can also be clues that you have endometriosis.
2. Pelvic pain and discomfort in other areas
Endometriosis may cause abdominal pain, and your symptoms may not follow your menstrual cycle.
Additionally, endometrial discharge can sometimes collect in areas where it can't drain properly, leading to pain in unusual places like your back, groin, or rectum. Blood-filled cysts, called endometriomas, may form and rupture, causing severe pain.
3. Gastrointestinal problems
Endometriosis can cause a variety of gastrointestinal problems, such as painful bowel movements, constipation, diarrhea, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis can often share similar symptoms, which can make getting an accurate diagnosis difficult for some women.
4. Pain during intercourse
A common symptom of endometriosis is pain during sex that may last up to a day following intercourse. You may not realize that your symptoms of painful sex are related to your other symptoms.
5. Vague symptoms
Endometriosis can cause everything from mild to extreme pain, and in some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. Many women have endometriosis without knowing it. Symptoms may appear gradually and worsen over time.
Getting help for endometriosis
If you’re struggling with endometriosis we want you to know that there are effective treatments available. We can treat your endometriosis using Her Option™ or NovaSure®, which uses cold temperatures or radiofrequency energy to disable the lining of the uterus. Both treatments can significantly improve symptoms.
If you have the symptoms of endometriosis, schedule a visit with our gynecology specialists so we can evaluate your symptoms and recommend a treatment. Call our office in Newport News or Hampton, Virginia, to schedule your appointment.