Do you suffer from painful periods? Have you been experiencing pain during intercourse? Do you also suffer from fatigue and other gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and painful bowel movements, especially during your period?
If you have answered yes to any or all of these questions, chances are that you’re suffering from endometriosis—a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the US, 1 million in Canada, and millions more worldwide. However, many aspects of endometriosis are misunderstood and sometimes it takes as long as 10 years for doctors to diagnose the condition.
Endometriosis was put under the spotlight when supermodel and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi launched the Endometriosis Foundation of America after her own harrowing battle with the little-known disease.
A recent study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology Conference says that women who have endometriosis up their miscarriage risk by 75 percent. The study, which involved over 14,000 women in Britain, said that endometriosis predisposes women to an increased risk of early pregnancy loss and later pregnancy complications.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis usually occurs when the tissue that lines the uterus (known as the endometrium) is found outside the uterus, usually in the abdomen, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the area between the vagina, rectum or the pelvic cavity.
Other sites for these endometrial growths may include the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix, vulva, outer surface of the uterus, and in abdominal surgical scars. Less commonly, they are found in the lung, arm, thigh, and other locations.
You might be suffering from endometriosis and not know about it. Here are the symtoms you should watch out for.
- Excruciating menstrual pain, before, during or after your periods. If the pain continues for more than two days and is strong enough to interfere with your daily routine, speak to a doctor.
- Pain during or right after intercourse.
- Painful urination during periods
- Painful bowel movements during periods
- Other gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Severe pain in the lower back or pelvis
- In some cases, you may have no pain or symptoms at all, especially if there isn’t much growth of the tissue
Lower The Odds
However, having endometriosis does not mean you can’t get pregnant or have a healthy pregnancy.
- Speak to your doctor if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above. Though there are chances that you don’t have the disease, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- If you are planning to conceive and suffer from endometriosis, consult your doctor about the tests and medications you need to take in order to increase your chances.
- If you are pregnant and have endometroisis, chart a plan with your doctor to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.
References: 1. Inputs from The Endometriosis Association Of America.