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Women's Health

Killer Cramps? No Matter Your Age, Endometriosis May Be To Blame

Published: March 8, 2022

Your period may not always pleasant, but it’s not supposed to be excruciatingly painful. If your time of the month is often marked by debilitating pain or heavy bleeding, you may be suffering from endometriosis, a common but potentially serious diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to that found in the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity. It can be difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure. But there are plenty of treatment options available to help decrease discomfort and improve your quality of life.


Symptoms

Although commonly diagnosed in women 30-40 years of age, endometriosis can present in early adolescence or later in life (perimenopausal years). More commonly, symptoms come and go with the menstrual cycle or sometimes linger all month long. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain just before and during your menstrual cycle that can radiates to your upper thighs or lower back
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Painful sex (during or after)
  • Heavy periods
  • Infertility


Causes

Although it’s unclear what causes endometriosis, several theories exist, including:

  • Endometrial tissue may spread via the blood or lymphatic system during fetal development.
  • It may be genetic. Some women may be more genetically susceptible to the disorder than others.
  • Menstrual tissue may back up into the fallopian tubes, implanting itself and growing along the lining of the abdomen. This is also known as retrograde menstruation.


Treatment

Endometriosis may be diagnosed with a pelvic exam or ultrasound, however, the only way to tell for sure is with a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. Treatment options include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, including aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen
  • Prescription medication
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Surgery

About the Author

Dr. Tifany Somer-Shely is an OB/GYN specializing in adolescent gynecology. She believes that in order to deliver quality care to her patients, it is necessary to build a strong patient relationship. She emphasizes a strong foundation of trust – trust that a patient will make decisions that positively affect their health and trust that the physician will deliver the best care possible.

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