More than a Private Pain – Common symptoms of endometriosis

We all have our aches and pains, things that annoy us, but we live with them. We’ve all felt that twinge or tingle signs and symptoms of endometriosis that is probably just indigestion, right? Perhaps not. It may be endometriosis.

As women, we’re told that some discomfort and irregularity are to be expected during our cycles. Doctors routinely use the phrase, “pinching” to describe the anticipated pain. However, some women are coping with more than just a pinch. Maybe yourself, maybe your friends or loved ones.

It is estimated that between 6-10% of women may be affected. My friend Laura is one of them, who, since being diagnosed in 2005, ‘Endo’ has been a household term.

Endometriosis is a medical condition where the type of cells that are found within the uterus that are associated with menstruation(endometrium), are found outside of the uterus- usually on the ovaries. These cells behave as the uterine lining does, and regularly build up and bleed during the menstrual cycle. This, aside from being painful, can cause internal bleeding, scarring, and interference with your other organs.

Endometriosis is often linked to infertility in women. Scar tissue may build up, binding organs together, complicating the reproductive organs and gastrointestinal tract. The severity of the discomfort and damage is individual to each woman, depending on where the endometrial-like cells are located in her body.

Studies indicate that it may run in the family. Women are about 10-times more likely to be affected, if their mother or sister are also affected. The precise cause of endometriosis is still unknown, though it may be a genetic trigger similar to the development of cancer cells.

A quick search for “symptom endometriosis” symptoms endometriosis gave me a glimpse into Laura’s world.

Common symptoms of endometriosis:

ñ Pelvic pain, especially during menses. This has many different manifestations, from debilitating cramps, pain during sex, and discomfort while urinating or voiding.

ñ Irregular swelling during your menses, caused by blood accumulating internally.

ñ Abdominal or lower back pain that extends down your legs.

If this list mirrors your experience, you may want to visit your doctor to investigate these symptoms for endometriosis.

Treatment options are available, ranging from prescription painkillers and hormone control, to surgery to attempt to remove the endometrial tissue. Laura has undergone all three, and shared her experience with me,

“I’m not going to let pain get in the way of my accomplishing what I want to accomplish. If the pain is really bad I will take a prescribed painkiller and it normally at least takes the edge off. It’s something that I have been living with for 6 years now, and its something I’m growing accustomed to. I know it isn’t going to go away, and I know what all of my options are.”

Laura hopes to someday have children, and has declined the final option of having a hysterectomy(having her uterus completely removed) until she has reached that goal. She remains a vital, active woman. Her personal strength is a testament to the endurance and spirit many women aspire to have.

“I feel that I am able to emotionally handle it on most days,” she says.

“The days it becomes overwhelming I have my husband to talk to and he is very understanding and supportive.”

Laura asserts that there are professional support groups available as well, “if I need the extra boost.” what are the symptoms of endometriosis

In closing, be aware of yourself and the women around you! Search the symptoms for endometriosis. They may be enduring more, day to day, than we can fathom. No woman should have to bear it alone. It is through support and awareness that endometriosis can be known and managed.