Living With Endometriosis

Endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain

Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition. Women who have been diagnosed with this disease are being instructed how to monitor and self-manage the symptoms.  It is still not clearly understood why endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. What is known is that high estrogen levels worsen the symptoms, and this explains why this gynecological problem is seen in the adolescent years up to women in their forties.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms

Photo Credit: Themightyquill -Endometriosis.
Photo Credit: Themightyquill -Endometriosis.

There is an important link between where the abnormal endometrial tissue is growing and the symptoms that are experienced by the patient.

It is useful to make notes on where and when the symptoms occur. Also note improvement, worsening or no real change when given medication or when a procedure has been performed. Frequently experienced symptoms include:

  • Lower abdominal/Pelvic pain occurs when the abnormal tissue is on the outside of the uterus or on the ovary. Any site in the pelvic cavity can host the endothelial tissue.
  • Lower backaches, rectal, and vaginal pain indicate the probable site of the abnormal tissue.
  • Painful periods also known as dysmenorrhea. Worsening of the symptom indicates there needs to be a clinical and diagnostic review.
  • Menorrhagia describes heavy periods which can lead to anemia.
  • Painful sex. This may be an indication that the endometriosis is in the wall of the vaginal vault or the cervix.
  • Bleeding can occurs after sexual intercourse.
  • During the monthly period, there can also be blood in stool, nose bleed and vomiting blood. These are important signs of the extra-uterus endometriosis.
  • Infertility is the result of scar tissues on the uterus, ovaries, or Fallopian tubes. It is possible to get pregnant after laparoscopic surgery to remove scarred tissue.

There are also women who have no symptoms at all, and the endometriosis is an incidental finding during exploratory laparoscopic procedures.

There are other gynecological illnesses that cause chronic pelvic pain, and so it is important to give as much information to the gynecologist. The other conditions are uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, adhesions, and pelvic congestion. A physical exam and diagnostic tests (transvaginal ultrasound, CAT scan and a MRI) help to narrow the diagnosis of the pelvic pain. A laparoscopic exam is the confirmatory exam.

Treatment Options

The option that may be recommended for you depends in part on how mild or severe your symptoms are, your age, and whether you wish to get pregnant.

Conservative Treatments include:

  • Acupuncture and acupressure are helpful pain management treatment modalities.
  • Heating pads put on the site of the pain helps to relieve the pain.
  • Exercise done regularly helps to improve the pelvic symptoms.
  • Home remedies which include over the counter OTC pain relievers, vitamins, and herbal supplements may help to relief pain.

Medical Treatment

  • Analgesics for the pain include NSAID (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve/naproxen).
  • Hormonal therapy which include birth control pills and other preparations of hormones
  • Infertility Treatment

Surgical Procedures

Gynecologists offer what is called laparoscopic or keyhole surgery. The procedure allows the surgeon to remove the abnormal tissue; some of which is sent for biopsy examination. A hysterectomy is done in the case of severe endometriosis which has damaged the uterus and ovaries. If you have a desire to get pregnant, you should definitely explore the option for laparoscopic surgery to minimize the scar tissues.

Tips for managing your symptoms

  • Check meds to avoid medication with estrogen since estrogen has been proven to worsen the symptoms of endometriosis.
  • Exercise daily.
    • Walking
    • Swimming
    • Dancing
    • Water exercise/aerobics
  • Commit to eating a healthy diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables. The diet for fertility is the whole food diet (organic). This diet promotes the health of the womb, increases ovulation, and decreases the incidence of miscarriages.
    • Whole food include:
      • Whole grain
      • Sprouted grain
    • Vegetables: kale, turnip, collard, mustard green, kelp
    • Chinese herbs:
    • Wakame seaweed
    • Lean protein (organic)
    • Omega fatty acid: cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel
    • Whole grain
    • Multi-vitamins, minerals and micronutrients
      • Vitamin D
      • Calcium
  • Limit processed foods and foods with added sugar

There are herbs which promote hormonal balance: licorice, maca, vitex, tribulus, white peony

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily to keep yourself well hydrated.
  • Find a support group for emotional support
  • Consider therapy if you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious about your illness

Take control of your health and well-being as there are options to pursue to improve the quality of your life.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

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