Menopause, or “the change of life,” is a stage of a woman’s life that marks the end of her productive years. While every woman is different, menopause typically occurs around 50 years of age and can be both exhausting and frustrating to manage.
Period Pain: Normal or Endometriosis?
While periods, or menstrual cycles, are a normal part of a woman’s life, there are aspects about your period that may not be normal. Though it may sometimes be difficult, it is important to be able to distinguish if your period symptoms are typical or atypical and if they are worth mentioning to your gynecologist.
Periods can certainly be different for each woman, especially when it comes to cramps and menstrual pain. Endometriosis, however, is a condition that is marked by significant abdominal pain before, during or even after your period. Since most menstrual cycles are accompanied by some level of discomfort, it can be easy to mistake endometriosis for normal menstrual pain.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis affects nearly 5 to 6 percent of women. It occurs when the tissues of the uterus lining (endometrium) grow in places it shouldn’t, such as inside the ovaries, the abdominal cavity or even on the bladder or bowels. While it may seem insignificant to have a thin layer of tissue growing outside your uterus, it can actually cause quite a bit of pain for those who suffer. Endometriosis can even make it more difficult to get pregnant for some women.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is most known for cyclic pain or painful periods, but it is a disease that is not fully understood by medical professionals. However, we do know that it typically develops in women who are between puberty and menopause. Experts cannot agree on whether it is possible to lower your risk for endometriosis, but there does appear to be a genetic predisposition. Currently, there is no test to determine if you are at a higher risk for endometriosis. Your physician, however, can perform a pelvic exam and imaging to diagnose your condition. Endometriosis is typically diagnosed in four main stages depending on the location, depth, size, and amount of tissue that has grown outside the uterus (called endometrial implants).
How is Endometriosis Treated?
While there is not a cure for endometriosis, there are effective treatment options for the pain and infertility that endometriosis can cause. If endometriosis is compromising your quality of life, it is important to tell your physician. In many cases, hormonal contraceptives can be used to control the hormones that cause the buildup of tissue. If you have severe endometriosis, your physician may suggest laparoscopy, a simple and minimally invasive procedure to remove the tissue that is causing pain.
At North Pointe OB/GYN, we have a team of experienced gynecologist who have a keen understanding of endometriosis and how to treat and manage its symptoms. If you believe your period pain is “more than normal,” please let us know so that we can consider the possibility of endometriosis. Call our Cumming office today to schedule your appointment.
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