You’ve seen the commercials:
“I CAN KEEP PUSHING THROUGH MY ENDO PAIN OR I CAN…” Ad for Orlissa
The thing about direct-to-consumer advertising like this is that it makes anyone and everyone think that they have the disorder that is being treated. You think- “I have pain around my menstrual cycle, so maybe I have endometriosis.”
Here at Women’s Health Consulting, we’ll help you understand your health.
What is Endometriosis?
From the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the definition of endometriosis is as follows.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the type of tissue that forms the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. Endometriosis implants respond to changes in estrogen, a female hormone.
The implants may grow and bleed like the uterine lining does during the menstrual cycle. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, inflamed, and swollen.
The breakdown and bleeding of this tissue each month also can cause scar tissue, called adhesions, to form. Sometimes adhesions can cause organs to stick together. The bleeding, inflammation, and scarring can cause pain, especially before and during menstruation.
That means that the tissue that is inside of the uterus can SOMEHOW make it outside of the uterus and cause problems. What kind of problems? To name a few:
- Pain during and outside of menstrual cycles
- Fertility issues
- Scarring in the abdomen
Fertility issues can come from scarring that blocks the fallopian tubes, but also inflammation that actually damages sperm or egg and interferes with their normal movement.
Mild endometriosis symptoms can mimic the basic aspects of being a woman- painful crampy periods. In more severe cases, pelvic pain can be present even without menstrual cycles, during intercourse and with urination. The problem is that none of these symptoms are SOLELY UNIQUE to endometriosis. Ovarian cysts, fibroids, urinary tract infections and just having girl parts can mimic these symptoms.
So, how do I know if I actually have Endometriosis.
If enough symptoms seem to fit the description, your doctor (me for some of you) may try medications to treat it. Endometriosis ends up sometimes being diagnosed based on whether or not the treatment works.
“But Doc, why can’t you just perform a test to diagnoses Endometriosis?”
Because the only way to definitely diagnose Endometriosis is to have a surgery called a Laparoscopy and have areas biopsied. Ultrasound can sometimes suggest Endometriosis, but it isn’t perfect. Endometriosis can be present without any findings on ultrasound and vice versa, findings can suggest endometriosis and be wrong.
The NEW MEDICATION that is being advertised for the management of Endometriosis is different than previous meds.
- It is an oral pill, rather than a shot. The previous medication in this class was a shot you would receive in the office every 1-3 months. This is easier for a person to take on their own rather than having to come into the office for a shot.
- This medication is stronger and more effective than birth control pills, which can often improve milder endometriosis symptoms.
- It may also allow women to experience relief of Endometriosis symptoms without having surgery.
For the record, I AM IN NO WAY ENDORSING THE NEW MEDICATION. I don’t receive any money from drug companies to talk about or promote particular products. I did, however, see the series of commercials and think, If I didn’t know better, I’d wonder if this medication was for me.
In the end,
… if you think that you have Endometriosis, see your doctor. They may be able to make the diagnosis based on your symptoms, or may be able to try different management option to improve your symptoms. Most importantly, they can also rule out other harmful diagnoses. It’s important to investigate many possibilities when you are experiencing chronic or cyclic pain.
Don’t ignore pain.
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This post was originally shared on The Gyneco-bLogic.