According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, 7 million women in the United States have endometriosis. That’s three times the population of Chicago.
Endometriosis is when the endometrium, which is tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, starts growing in areas outside the uterus. These growths can cause inflammation and pain. Endometriosis is generally found in the pelvic cavity but can be found attached to the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, bowel, intestines and the appendix, among other areas.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. According to speakendo.com, it’s important to speak up about endometriosis symptoms, especially with your gynecologist.
According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, over 200 million women worldwide are affected by endometriosis and many go undiagnosed. Symptoms include extremely painful cramps, long periods, heavy menstrual flow, bowel or urinary disorders, nausea or vomiting, pain during sex and chronic fatigue. Symptoms can occur when puberty begins, but are most commonly detected around ages 25 to 35.
“I’m unlike most people in that I didn’t have any symptoms at all, except for not being able to get pregnant,” Renee Brattain said, who was diagnosed with endometriosis in the late 1990s when she was trying to have children.
“I was trying to get pregnant and I couldn’t get pregnant, we tried for a couple of years. I went to the doctor and they check you for everything. They did about every single test on me and it took about a year and a half,” Brattain said.
According to speakendo.com, it takes an average of six to 10 years to properly diagnose endometriosis. Symptoms of endometriosis are similar to symptoms of many other diseases and endometriosis is still a disease that is not completely understood by physicians.
“Finally, they did an exploratory surgery and they found endometriosis attached to my bladder, ovaries, abdominal wall, it was kind of everywhere. It was just all over inside. When you have endometriosis, it sends the signal to your body that there’s a hostile environment and you can’t get pregnant. So they had to take the laser and zap it out,” Brattain said.
According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, there is no proven cause of endometriosis, but several theories exist. For example, if a close relative has endometriosis, you are five to seven times more likely to have it as well. This leads doctors to believe there is a genetic component to endometriosis, but they are still researching this theory.
There is no cure for endometriosis, so treatment options include dealing with the symptoms instead of the root cause, according to the Endometriosis Foundation of America. Treatment options include painkillers, hormonal birth control, laparoscopic excision surgery, other surgery options to burn or laser off growth, acupuncture or changes in diet.
“After they lasered it off, my doctor said my body should stop sending the signal that there is a hostile environment. After a few months, I got impatient, so I took a fertility drug. One month I produced 10 eggs and none of them were fertilized. The next month I produced 12 eggs and two were fertilized, so my body was happy,” Brattain said.
According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, early diagnosis and intervention is the best way to manage endometriosis, and keep it from progressing. That is why it is important to always be upfront about symptoms and if you think something is off about your period, speak up.
Visit https://www.speakendo.com/ or https://www.endofound.org/ for more information.