Experiencing cramps during periods is normal, but it has been discovered that over 11 per cent of women between the ages of 15 to 44 experience these pelvic pain due to endometriosis.
“Endometriosis is a condition where the inner tissue lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus and causes an inflammatory response,” said Jennifer Conti, MD, clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Stanford University to Prevention.
This means that instead of the uterus lining coming out of the cervix, it backs up and gets settled around the fallopian tubes. It then plants itself on various pelvic organs and intestines as well. This process of the lining shedding from the other end is called as retrograde menstruation. “If your mom or sister has endometriosis, then you’re much more likely to experience it, as well. And even though endometriosis can occur in any woman of reproductive age, it’s more common in women in their 30s, which is likely related to the years of having periods,” said Dr Conti.
Here are some signs that you may be suffering from endometriosis:
You have very painful periods
These cramps put the normal period cramps to shame. Pain in this case starts a day or two before the periods start and continues for several days afterwards too. “It’s often chronic, dull, throbbing, sharp, or burning in nature,” said Dr Conti.
This happens due to a hormonal response. Each month, the tissue that lines the uterine cavity responds to hormones, thickens, then sheds and bleeds. But because the blood has nowhere to go outside of the abdominal cavity when retrograde menstruation occurs, it can cause pain, said Dr Dweck.
Sex is not pleasurable anymore
If you experience pain or discomfort during sex, it may be due to endometriosis. As the uterus lining gets built up in the pelvic region, it makes sex painful. “Scar tissue can build up over time to cause generalised pelvic pain and painful sex in some women,” said Dr Dweck.
This can then start taking a toll on your intimate relationships and your chemistry with your partner. “So it’s important to identify the condition and learn tactics for physical intimacy that work for you and your partner,” said Leena Nathan, MD of gynaecology.
You are having trouble getting pregnant
Endometriosis could also be hindering your attempts are getting pregnant. It is a common cause for infertility too. 25 to 30 per cent of women who are infertile are due to endometriosis. It is believed to happen due to the build up of scar tissue, which leads to unfavourable conditions to get pregnant.
Going to the bathroom becomes painful too
“Since endometriosis implants can bleed in response to cyclical hormone changes and the blood has nowhere to escape, scar tissue builds up and can cause pain anywhere in the pelvic region, including near the bladder and rectum,” said Dr Dweck.
As blood in the pelvic region has no place to escape, it irritates the body and leads to the formation of cysts. “This can mechanically press on the bladder or rectum to cause pain,” she said.
You have heavy bleeding during your periods
Having heavy bleeding during your periods and having it for a short duration is an indication of endometriosis. Although the reason is unclear, it interferes the most in a woman’s life. “Heavier bleeding can result in not being able to go to work or school,” said Dr. Nathan.
You spot random spotting and bleeding
Spotting between periods is not only inconvenient, but also worrisome. If you can’t identify a reason as to why spotting happens, then talk to your doctor about it. It could be endometriosis. It can also cause random bleeding between periods....