Signs You Have Endometriosis and When to See a Doctor

Endometriosis causes lower abdominal and pelvic pain due to irregular growth of the endometrium. The condition affects more than 200,000 women every year in the U.S. alone.

Endometriosis treatment options are still in the early phases, as doctors are just now learning more about the condition. It is also difficult to treat, as it presents differently between women. Some patients experience painful menstruation while others have more general chronic pain.

An endometriosis diet is one that incorporates anti-inflammatory foods to help fight inflammation in the uterus. Many nutritionists are only recently seeing the benefits of changing diet to help manage the condition. Some women may benefit greatly by eliminating certain foods altogether.

Doctors can prescribe endometriosis medication to help with pain, but they will not cure the condition. Some doctors recommend hormone therapy to control a woman’s estrogen levels. The exact prescription depends on the patient and her specific symptoms. For more information about endometriosis, continue reading the topics below.

Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis

Exact endometriosis causes are still not clear. Researchers are probing more heavily into the condition, and clinical trials show promise in reducing inflammation and providing better pain management.

The most common symptom of endometriosis is deep pelvic pain. Most women experience the worst of this pain during their menstrual cycle. This is caused by the displacement of the endometrium, which thickens and bleeds outside of the uterus.

Pain during a woman’s period is known as dysmenorrhea. Some women may experience lower back and abdominal pain as well since the body places stress on the surrounding muscles when cramping. The pain may begin several days before the menstrual cycle begins.

Endometriosis causes pain with intercourse for some women. It is quite common for women to feel pain or discomfort during or after intercourse. Others may experience painful bowel movements or urination, especially during a menstrual cycle.

If you’re wondering, “Can you get pregnant with endometriosis?” it is important to understand that the answer can be a bit complicated. Infertility is a common symptom of the condition. In fact, many women are only diagnosed with endometriosis after seeking medical treatment for infertility.

Roughly one-third of women diagnosed with endometriosis struggle with infertility. In most cases, the fallopian tube becomes blocked by the growth of the endometrium. If the egg and the sperm cannot unite, pregnancy cannot occur.

However, this does not mean that women cannot get pregnant with endometriosis. Some doctors advise women to get pregnant early on in their diagnosis due to the fact that the condition worsens over time.

Causes of Endometriosis

Endometriosis causes are not as cut-and-dry as other conditions. More research into the condition is necessary to better understand the risk factors. Many studies have reported that women with a family history of the condition are more likely to develop it later on in life. Research into the hereditary theory is ongoing, but there is no concrete evidence to prove if endometriosis is hereditary.  

One theory is known as retrograde menstruation. During this process, menstrual blood goes back through the fallopian tubes and gathers in the pelvic cavity instead of leaving the body. The endometrial cells found in this blood attach to the pelvic walls and organs, where they grow abnormally and thicken during each menstrual cycle.

This theory explains how the endometrium winds up outside of the uterus. However, the cause of retrograde menstruation is not well-known either.

Other endometriosis causes are more anatomical. Some theories discuss the transformation of peritoneal cells, which typically line the walls of the abdomen, into endometrial cells. This conversion creates inflammation and thicker linings, therefore causing pain and discomfort in the area.

Women who undergo certain types of surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, may develop the condition after the scar healing process. Some researchers believe that endometrial cells can stick to scar tissue and surgical incisions.

Learn About Endometriosis Treatment

Seeking endometriosis treatment is an important step toward learning how to live with the chronic condition. Some women may live with it for years without receiving a formal diagnosis. However, there are certain signs that signal a need to visit the doctor.

Some pain and cramping during menstruation is normal. However, when the pain becomes agonizing and widespread throughout your abdomen, pelvis and lower back, it can be a sign of a much more serious condition.

Similarly, if you experience a combination of symptoms during your menstrual cycle, make an appointment with a doctor. Having just one or two symptoms may not indicate a diagnosis, but a doctor can rule out other causes to help you manage your pain.

Starting an endometriosis treatment routine early on in the condition results in better management and less pain. If you are unsure of your symptoms, it is always recommended to visit a doctor.

The symptoms of endometriosis are often confused with similar conditions, like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Be sure to include all your symptoms when discussing your case with a medical team to ensure the correct diagnosis.

After getting diagnosed with endometriosis, there are a few common treatment options. An endometriosis diet may be recommended by doctors and nutritionists to help control the inflammation in the abdomen. Before starting a new diet or food regimen, it is always best to consult with a doctor of nutritionist.

An anti-inflammatory diet reduces inflammation and consists of foods rich in magnesium. It should also include plenty of fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries and broccoli to help eliminate bloat.

There are a few key foods that women with endometriosis should avoid. Dairy, for example, is known to cause inflammation through hormones. Those that carry growth hormones can worsen endometriosis symptoms.

An endometriosis diet should also stray away from high-fat foods, which can increase the level of estrogen in the body. More fat in the diet means more estrogen, which means more discomfort and worse symptoms.