The actresses Julianne Hough and Lena Dunham, along with celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels have all spoken out about their struggles with endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-Oh-sis). One thing stands out about their stories. It often takes a long time for many women to realize that the severe pain during periods and with intercourse is not typical. “For the longest time, I thought: this is the way my period is,” Julianne Hough told People magazine. “I didn’t want to complain, so I’d just deal with it and ignore it.” The truth is, sometimes severe pain during periods is not normal, it’s endometriosis.

Endometriosis is an overgrowth of uterine tissue outside of the uterus. The tissue that normally grows inside the uterus is called endometrium. The endometrial tissue can grow where it shouldn’t grow. It can grow around ovaries, fallopian tubes, the tissue lining the pelvis. More rarely, it can grow outside the pelvis. Endometriosis affects one in 10 women of reproductive age.

Even though the endometrial tissue grows where it should not be, it still breaks down during each menstrual cycle.  The body tries to shed it through the uterus as normal endometrial tissue would normally be shed.. This can cause severe pain during periods.

Endometriosis and Fertility

Endometriosis can affect fertility. Some women with endometriosis can have trouble becoming pregnant. Working with an experienced fertility doctor in Eugene can help women who want to start a family be proactive and make a plan.

Diagnosis of Endometriosis

The first step in diagnosing endometriosis is a pelvic exam. If the doctor can not feel areas of endometrial tissue growth, she may use ultrasound or surgical laparoscopy. A diagnosis of endometriosis is made if endometrial tissue is found growing anywhere outside the uterus.

Treatment of Endometriosis

Self-care to make you comfortable during the painful periods is important. Try heating pads or warm compresses. It may be safe to take over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Aleve at doses your doctor recommends.

Your doctor may suggest hormone therapy or a prescription drug called Lupron that suppresses endometrial tissue growth. This would not be recommended for a woman who is actively trying to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about your desires for family planning.

Surgery can be an option in severe cases of endometriosis. Discuss risks and benefits of surgery with your doctor. A personalized treatment plan that takes into account your goals will work best for you.

Endometriosis is a painful condition in which tissue that grows inside of the uterus develops on the outside of it. It can affect the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, intestines, and the tissue lining the pelvic region. Clusters of endometrial tissue implanted on these organs cause painful inflammation during menstruation. This condition causes discomfort, and also infertility in some cases. There are treatment options for endometriosis that range from pain relievers to surgery.

5 Symptoms of endometriosis

1 . Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea). In the days leading up a period, mild cramping may begin and get more intense during the menstrual cycle. There may also be lower back and abdominal pain.

2 . Painful intercourse. It’s common for sexual intercourse to be painful if a woman has endometriosis. The pain comes from the stretching and pulling of endometrial growths located behind the vagina and lower uterus.

3 . Excessive menstrual bleeding. Heavy bleeding during periods — or bleeding between periods – might be other symptoms of endometriosis.

4 . Infertility. Trouble conceiving may be a sign of endometriosis. Treating endometriosis, if present, can help a women become pregnant.

5 . Painful urination or bowel movements. Discomfort in urinating or bowel movements can be associated with endometriosis.

Some other signs of endometriosis may include fatigue, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea, notably during a period. Be sure to see a doctor if any of the above symptoms are experienced. Chronic pain of the pelvis or abdominal area needs medical attention.

Treating endometriosis

Birth control. Birth control hormones in the form of pills, a patch, or a ring may reduce pain for some women. This treatment method is more likely to prevent the condition from worsening.

Pain relievers. Anti-inflammatory medications may be all some women need to reduce pain from endometriosis.

Surgery. The most common surgical procedure for endometriosis is a laparoscopy. This involves a doctor placing one or more small incisions on the abdomen, through which narrow instruments are used to remove endometrial growths and scar tissue. A laparoscopy is typically successful in significantly reducing or eliminating pain and increasing the chance for pregnancy.

In rare cases, a complete hysterectomy is performed when all other treatments for endometriosis fail and the patient doesn’t plan to have any children. The result of a hysterectomy is early menopause, however.

Infertility treatment. If a woman is still having trouble conceiving after undergoing surgery for endometriosis, additional treatments might be necessary. These can include fertility drugs, insemination, or in-vitro fertilization.

The doctors at Pacific Women’s Center understand endometriosis and how it interferes with a woman’s life. Call them today to learn more about treatment options.