March is Endometriosis Month.
Endometriosis is when the uterine inner lining develops outside the uterus. Endometriosis affects your sexual life. Sex can become extremely painful. But let me tell you, you may have to go through hella testing before it is appropriately diagnosed. Delightfully we have a month dedicated to bringing awareness around endometriosis. The pain felt from the disease can be severe, especially during your cycle and sex.
The thicken lining breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle, however the excess tissue has no way to exit the body. It grows and spreads and can affect the ovaries. Scar tissue and adhesions cause pelvic tissue and organs to stick to each other. Untreated, eventually you will experience fertility issues. Because there is limited information about the disease, we do know that doctors are quick to suggest a version of a hysterectomy to rectify the matter.
This is a very common issue among vulva owners. The bladder and intestines can develop complications as well. Treatment is a necessity; it will not go away on its own. Vulva owners between 18 and 35 are most susceptible.
What Are the Signs of Endometriosis?
What signs are you looking for to help you suspect endometriosis? Each of us is different so watch for what you know does not feel right for your body.
Some symptoms include:
- Experience painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Pelvic pain and cramping that begin before and goes several days into your cycle
- Lower back and stomach pain
- Suddenly start to experience pain during sex
- A huge sign is excessive bleeding
- Infertility and fertility issues
- Other symptoms may include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed when you seek treatment for infertility. Many times, vulva owners find it hard to conceive, and this could be because of the thickening of the lining that prevents an egg from uniting with the sperm. Something to keep in mind is that endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramping.
When to Seek Treatment
So, when should you see a doctor? Immediately, when you feel that your cycle is not ‘right”, and pain is severe enough to disrupt your daily activities. The sooner you seek a doctor’s care, the better your chances of beating the disease. An early diagnosis by a multidisciplinary medical team will result in great management of your symptoms and to develop a game plan to treat the disease.
What Causes Endometriosis?
You may be thinking what causes endometriosis? While it is not certain, there are a few explanations such as retrograde menstruation. This is when menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. Transformation of peritoneal cells suggest that hormones or immune factor’s promote transformation of peritoneal cells that line the inner side of the abdomen. The transformation of embryonic cells such as estrogen may transform embryonic cells into endometrial like cells during puberty. After a surgery, surgical scar implantation can cause cells to attach to the surgical incision. The lymphatic system may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body known as endometrial cell transport.
Other Risk Factors
Finally, an immune system disorder may make the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial like tissue that grows outside the uterus. Bear with me as I list risk factors. If you know them, you can better manage your health.
- Never giving birth
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycles
- Starting your cycle at an early age
- Heavy cycles that last longer than 7 days
- Having higher levels of estrogen in your body
- Low body mass index
- And even having one or more relatives with endometriosis can be a risk factor for you.
Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of your flow out of the body and lastly any reproductive tract abnormalities are all risk factors.
What Happens If I Go Untreated?
The dreaded diagnosis of cancer is a possibility if you leave endometriosis untreated. Ovarian cancer does occur at higher than expected rates in those with endometriosis. The more you know, the better.
Use this month to find out more about endometriosis. As a vulva owner, you should do what you can to protect yourself, as early detection can let you take control of this health issue that affects your sexual health.