Pelvic Pain.. Killer Period Cramps… Pain with sex…Constipation… Fatigue… Bloating… Nausea…Infertility…all of this sounds awful doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, for 1 in 10 women these symptoms are their daily reality. These symptoms describe a condition called Endometriosis. Endometriosis, commonly shortened to “Endo,” is the most common gynecological cause of chronic pelvic pain (approximately 75% of all cases). What’s worse, is that most women have to wait an average of 7-10 years to be diagnosed. That’s a lot of suffering-so what exactly is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (endometrium) starts growing outside your uterus. Once the endo tissue spreads to the other locations, the body has a difficult time ridding itself of the extra tissues (Endo) and they become trapped. The trapped tissue becomes inflamed, often leading to form scar tissue/adhesions contributing to pain.
What’s worse is that the Endo tissues that have spread out all over the place will act just like the tissue inside your uterus, meaning they will follow your monthly cycle.
Seriously…what’s worse than having period pain cycling throughout your body?
Because Endometriosis occurs largely in areas we cannot see, it is termed to be the “Silent Disease.” It often spreads to the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissues lining your pelvis, but in some cases, it can also spread beyond your pelvic organs to places such as your bladder, rectum, or as high up as your lungs or diaphragm. Interestingly enough, the location the endo has traveled, levels of pain and the degree of endometriosis do not always coincide. Meaning someone with stage 4 Endo (the worst) may not have many of the pain symptoms-yet struggle with fertility. While someone with stage 1 Endo may have severe pain.
No matter what, Endo can have major effects on the lifestyle of women who deal with symptoms on a day to day basis…and there is NO CURE!
So, what is life like with someone who has endometriosis?
What do they wish YOU knew, and how can you be supportive of them?
The top 5 frustrations in the life of someone living with endometriosis
- Heavy, prolonged, and irregular periods-including breakthrough bleeding
- Pain – with periods, with sex, with bowel movements, and occasionally pain with urination
- Infertility – enough said
- Healthcare Providers – lots of appointments, many specialists, and most likely surgeries just to determine a proper diagnosis and possibly get some short-term relief.
- People not understanding and thinking you are “faking” these symptoms to get out of things both at home and work life.
The management of Endo is best handled by a multidisciplinary approach. Often a General Practitioner, OB/GYN, Psychologist, Pain Medicine Specialist, Dietitian, and a Pelvic Rehabilitation Physical Therapist are all needed to successfully help an Endo patient have the best quality of life. Pelvic Rehabilitation Physical Therapists (AKA Women’s Health Physical Therapists) play a large role in the pain management and infertility symptoms of Endo by helping to treat the musculoskeletal issues both internally and externally.
Here at Apex, we are lucky enough to have a team of highly trained Pelvic Rehabilitation Physical Therapists ready to help those with Endo live their best life possible!
Please join us this month of March as we celebrate Endometriosis Awareness. Your support could be as simple as wearing yellow or showing a loved one how much you appreciate them or giving someone a little extra support and words of encouragement! You may never know what someone else is dealing with in their life, although they may not show symptoms on the outside, they could be living with excruciating pain day to day.
We support you “Endo Warriors”!!