ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Endometriosis affects one in 10 women and accounts for between 71-80% of all pelvic pain, according to a Capital Region OBGYN. March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and NEWS10 wanted to discuss this painful condition that many women don’t even know they have.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue, similar to tissue found in the lining of the uterus, grows on the female reproductive organs outside of the uterus. The condition is difficult to detect without surgery, sometimes taking years to diagnose, said Dr. Christopher Bloss, an OBGYN with Capital Region Women’s Care.
“It’s very challenging, a lot of people tend to normalize what their experience is, whether it’s pain with your periods, pain with intercourse, heavy bleeding and until you have that conversation with your mom, friend, or sister, and they say that’s not what I’m experiencing, most think it’s just normal for them,” Dr. Bloss said.
Symptoms of endometriosis
- pelvic pain
- excessive menstrual cramps in the abdomen or back
- bleeding between menstrual cycles
- heavy bleeding during menstruation
- digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea) especially during menstruation
- painful bowel movements
- painful urination during menstruation
- pain with intercourse
In some cases, if endometriosis is suspected, it can be diagnosed through a pelvic ultrasound. However, an ultrasound may only pick up ovarian cysts which doesn’t mean necessarily a woman has endometriosis. For the majority of women, endometriosis is most often diagnosed through laparoscopic surgery.
“The way that endometriosis is predominantly diagnosed is with laparoscopy. It’s an outpatient procedure that we do at the hospital, under general anesthesia, where your belly is inflated with gas and we put a camera through the belly button to take a look inside,” said Dr. Bloss.
Treatments for endometriosis
- birth control pill
- Lupron Depot injection
- laparoscopic surgery
Because pain is one of the most telltale signs of endometriosis, Dr. Bloss said women should talk to their gynecologist or physician if they are experiencing pelvic pain. He also encourages women to keep advocating for themselves.
“If you don’t have a gynecologist, start with your primary care doctor. Talk with them about symptoms. Say ‘you know this is what I’ve got, could it be endometriosis? What do I need to do? Don’t let people blow you off and keep pushing until you get to someone who’s going to listen to you,” he said.