Endometriosis can be extremely painful and is a condition that affects many women, yet it can take years to get a proper diagnosis. In addition to physical pain, endometriosis can lower self-esteem and affect your mood, which in turn may negatively impact relationships. One of the most severe side-effects of endometriosis is infertility. Approximately half of women who have this problem may have difficulty conceiving, and this is potentially the first time they will seek medical help.

One reason why women often delay seeing a doctor is that they assume the pain is merely normal during menstruation, and other symptoms may just be ignored. However, endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain, and there are other signs that may indicate you have this problem.

Warning Signs Can Include:
Some warning signs of endometriosis include pelvic pain that begins and extends beyond the duration of your period. Cramping during menstruation may be worse than before, and discomfort could increase, while menstruation becomes heavier over time. Some women have pain when going to the bathroom, and especially when they have their period. It’s more common to experience pain during or after sex. It’s also possible for endometriosis to cause fatigue, constipation, and nausea, and especially during your period.

What Causes the Discomfort?
The pain of endometriosis is caused by the tissue that usually lines the inside of the uterus beginning to grow outside of it. The growth of this tissue can affect the bowels or tissue lining the pelvis, or the ovaries. Over time, scar tissue and cysts can form.

Initially, treatment often begins with medication to help relieve discomfort and pain, but the severity of the pain doesn’t necessarily indicate the seriousness of this condition. For example, some people with only mild endometriosis may be in severe pain while others who have advanced endometriosis will have little pain or even no pain at all. Sometimes the pain caused by this condition is mistaken for other problems, which include ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Is Anybody More at Risk of Developing Endometriosis?
You might be more at risk of developing endometriosis if you begin your periods when you are still very young or are likely to go through the menopause when you are slightly older. Other risk factors include having a shorter menstrual cycle, having never given birth, or having a low body mass index. It’s a condition that generally takes several years to develop and signs and symptoms can temporarily disappear during pregnancy and may finish permanently with the menopause unless you have been prescribed estrogen.

Getting a Diagnosis
While one of the significant side-effects of endometriosis is infertility, it’s worth knowing that many women who have mild-to-moderate endometriosis will still have a successful pregnancy. However, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis and especially if you want a family because the condition may worsen over time. Another reason why you should get a diagnosis is that the risk of ovarian cancer in women with endometriosis seems to be a little higher, although the overall risk of developing this cancer is still relatively low.

Your doctor can diagnose this condition by carrying out a pelvic exam to feel for any abnormalities such as cysts, and they may also use ultrasound which can identify the presence of any cysts. If you need a more definitive diagnosis, then a laparoscopy may be required, where a surgeon will make a tiny incision to look inside your abdomen, and so they can check for endometrial tissue present outside the uterus.

Getting Treatment
Endometriosis can be treated with medication or with surgery, but often doctors will recommend trying more conservative approaches, reserving surgical options as a last resort. Over-the-counter painkillers can help relieve painful menstrual cramps, and your doctor may prescribe hormone therapy. If hormone therapy is suggested, then it’s important to realize this isn’t a permanent solution and that symptoms could return if you stop treatment.

Surgery could be appropriate if you have endometriosis and want to have a baby. It can help to remove endometrial tissue while still preserving your ovaries and uterus, and which could improve your chances of conceiving. It is a procedure that can be done laparoscopically or more traditionally for advanced endometriosis. The very last resort is to have a hysterectomy, removing the uterus and the ovaries. The ovaries must be removed because they produce estrogen that can stimulate this condition, causing the pain to continue.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.

Our attention to ourselves, to our daily routine and habits, is very important. Things that may seem insignificant, are pieces of a big puzzle called life. I want to encourage people to be more attentive to their well-being, improve every little item of it and become healthier, happier, stronger. All of us deserve that. And I really hope that my work helps to make the world better.