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Common Signs that You May Be Dealing with Endometriosis

If you’re like many women, you may be ignoring or tolerating common symptoms of endometriosis. This can delay your diagnosis and the chance to get treatment. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for women to overlook signs of this condition and suffer silently, resulting in diagnostic delays of up to 12 years.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which tissue similar to your uterine tissue, called the endometrium, grows outside your uterus. Growths typically occur in the pelvic area and can appear on your fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowel, or bladder. Endometriosis can also affect your vagina, vulva, cervix, or rectum. Though it’s possible, the tissue rarely spreads to other body parts like your brain, lungs, or skin. 

Diagnosing endometriosis requires an experienced professional because many of the symptoms associated with this condition mimic other health problems. Endometriosis specialist Shaurin Patel, MD, here at ObGynCare of Oklahoma provides expert diagnosis and treatment for women suffering from this condition. Dr. Patel has the knowledge and expertise necessary to confirm your diagnosis so you can begin a plan for reducing symptoms and finding relief as soon as possible. 

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, so we share how to recognize the symptoms of endometriosis so you can explore treatment options and live more fully. The most common symptoms associated with this chronic condition are as follows.

Pain -- the major symptom of endometriosis

When the endometrial cells grow outside the uterus, they form as patches or lesions that stick to the areas where they land. Unlike normal uterine tissue, these patches don’t pass out of your body during menstruation. Instead, they remain in your pelvic cavity and swell and bleed in response to your hormones during your period, which causes pain. 

The pain of endometriosis can be so severe that it can debilitate you and interfere with daily activities at work or at home. Pain typically strikes during your menstrual cycle when the relocated endometrial cells respond to uterine hormonal changes. This causes them to bleed and become inflamed every month during your period. The pain this causes is more intense than menstrual cramps and may worsen over time. 

However, the pain of endometriosis can also strike before and after menstruation or during ovulation. It can cause chronic lower back pain and pelvic pain so severe that it can affect your ability to walk. Endometriosis can also result in pain during bowel movements and when urinating, especially during your period. 

Irregular and heavy bleeding

It’s common to experience heavy bleeding and periods lasting longer than five days. You may also have shorter regular cycles or bleeding or sometimes spotting between periods can happen.

Painful intercourse

Painful intercourse, called dyspareunia, often happens as a result of endometriosis. This can feel like a sharp, stabbing, or deep ache that can range from mild to excruciating. The effect can occur during intercourse and/or last for up to two days after intercourse. 

The type of pain you experience during intercourse varies depending on the location of your endometrial tissue. Painful intercourse often occurs when the endometrial tissue grows behind your vagina and lower uterus and adheres to your rectum or your vagina. Since the penetration of intercourse involves pulling and stretching of the irritated endometrial tissue, pain results.  

Infertility 

Endometriosis can make it difficult to conceive. Up to half of women who have endometriosis or infertility also have the other condition. Endometriosis can affect your fertility in many ways, depending on the number and location of endometrial tissue patches. It can distort the anatomy of your pelvis, block and scar fallopian tubes, cause inflammation of your pelvic structures, and alter your immune system. 

The condition can also change the hormonal environment of the eggs, alter egg quality, and interfere with successful egg implantation. 

Other health problems

Endometriosis affects women differently. You may experience gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, or nausea as a result of this condition. Or, you may notice that your allergies worsen around your period or you feel extremely fatigued during menstruation.

Find out whether you’re dealing with endometriosis and what you can do about it. Schedule an appointment online or call one of our Oklahoma City offices today.

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