By: Kate Cottrell
Do you suffer from unusually extreme pain before, during, or after your menstrual period? If this is an ongoing problem, or you have experienced pelvic pain for longer than 3 months, particularly during urination (often when you have your period) or during sex, you may have endometriosis. Bowel problems including diarrhea, constipation and pain are also common symptoms.
Endometriosis can affect women during their reproductive years. It is related to growth of tissue similar to the uterus lining that builds up and leaves the body during monthly menstruation – except the tissue occurs elsewhere in the abdomen rather than in the uterus. Pain occurs due to inflammation that is caused when this tissue breaks down.
Overall, endometriosis affects about 10% (one in 10) of women during their childbearing years. However, rates increase to 30% among women with fertility problems, and reach 70% of women with chronic pelvic pain. If you suspect you may have endometriosis, keep a record of when and where your pain or other symptoms occur, and of any factors that seem to aggravate or improve your symptoms. Also let your doctor know how your symptoms are affecting your daily activities.
Pain related to endometriosis can be managed with a range of treatment options, including anti-inflammatory pain medications and non-drug approaches such as massage and physiotherapy. Hormonal treatments – usually contraceptive medications – may be used to shrink or slow the growth of endometrial tissue. Treatment can relieve pain and may also help preserve or restore fertility. When fertility is not a concern, surgical treatments may also be considered. Visit the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada at http://sogc.org/publications/endometriosis/ for more information.
- Endometriosis. Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. http://sogc.org/publications/endometriosis/