Endometriosis is estimated to affect up to 10% of women, yet getting a proper diagnosis is tough. Current research shows it takes 8-10 years to diagnose endometriosis-related infertility – far too long for women in pain or suffering!
Today, endometriosis specialists and patients have come together and said “Enough!”. Using symptom analysis to help diagnose endometriosis is becoming more commonplace. There is no question that surgery is cost prohibitive and has drawbacks, such as possible scar tissue development and recovery time.
The Challenge of Endometriosis Diagnosis
Doctors usually can’t see endometriosis without surgical investigation; laparoscopy is most common. Most endometriosis implants are simply too small to see with an ultrasound or feel with a pelvic exam. Further, endometriosis symptoms such as pain or excess bleeding have many other triggers and causes.
The Laparoscopic Approach to Diagnosis
For laparoscopic diagnosis, while you’re under general anesthesia, your surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen and uses a viewing instrument to check for endometrial implants outside of the uterus. He or she may take tissue samples for biopsy, too.
This approach is typically avoided in favor of drugs to help calm symptoms or block hormone production. Additionally, while the laparoscopy has benefits, it does not have to be the sole tool for diagnosis. Here are body signs and symptoms to look for indicating you may have an endometriosis challenge.
You Might Have Endometriosis If You Have…
Note: The following body signs and symptoms are not always related to endometriosis. However, if they persist over a long period of time with no other explanation, they could be. Always review your symptoms with an endometriosis specialist for analysis.
- Chronic or intermittent reproductive pain- Endometriosis is the most common cause of pelvic pain that persists over 6 months and may be severe or limit daily activities.
- Heavy, long or painful menstrual cycles (Dysmenorrhea)
- Unexplained Infertility- It’s estimated that around 30-40% of infertile women have endometriosis.
- Digestive or bladder problems- Bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), painful bowel movements or urination are common among women with endometriosis.
- Pain or cramping during intercourse- Endometriosis adhesions may exist behind the vagina or lower part of the uterus causing discomfort during intercourse.
- Back or leg pain- Endometriosis can affect the nerves, causing pain outside of the reproductive system.
- IC (Interstitial Cystitis) and migraines- Endometriosis often coexists with these conditions.
- Chronic fatigue or depression- Endometriosis can worsen fatigue and depression.
- Strong pain around ovulation- If present, this could be a result of chocolate cysts (endometriomas). Note: These can sometimes be seen and diagnosed through ultrasound.
- Anemia- Heavy menstruation caused by endometriosis contributes to anemia.
Finding Help if You Suspect Endometriosis
According to one survey, 1 out of 3 women consults 3-4 physicians before receiving a proper endometriosis diagnosis. Trust your intuition if you suspect you could have a challenge. Be sure to review your health history and symptoms when considering whether you might have endometriosis. Finding an endometriosis specialist to work with is really the best choice if you’re concerned.
Endometriosis can be treated medically through excision surgery or hormonal treatments but may return if dietary and environmental triggers are not addressed. In fact, women we work with see dramatic changes in their pain and symptoms after making dietary changes and using natural therapies. Become a champion of your own health, and you could conquer endometriosis and infertility for good.
Learn more about support from both medical and natural therapies in these guides:
The Best Natural Alternative Therapies for Endometriosis
The EndoWise Fertility Kit – designed to help support normal endometrial tissue function, support normal hormonal balance and encourage healthy circulation to the reproductive system.
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