One in every 10 women between the ages of 15 and 44 experience endometriosis — a condition that can significantly affect your quality of life and even fertility. Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinksi recently shared that she was diagnosed with endometriosis and had an excision procedure where robotic scissors were used to remove the excess tissue associated with endometriosis.
Lipinski and others living with endometriosis want to raise awareness for the signs and symptoms this condition can bring, so more women can know what changes in their body shouldn’t be ignored.
“The irony of my endometriosis diagnosis is that I knew almost nothing about a disorder that affects one in 10 women. That’s 176 million people. I’d never heard another woman mention ‘endo’ or the complications and pain that accompany it,” Lipinksi shared, adding, “I think the more we talk about endometriosis, the more proactive we can be about treatment.”
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. Endometrial tissues may grow in the fallopian tubes, around the ovaries or in other areas of the abdomen.
Even though the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, it acts just like it would while in the uterus. During your menstrual cycle, the tissue gets thick, then sheds and bleeds. Since there is nowhere for the blood and lining to go, it stays in your body irritating the cells around it. The irritated cells can form scar tissue and adhesions that cause your pelvic organs to stick together.
Understand What’s Normal and What’s Not for Your Periods
Seeking help early on from a gynecologist is essential to diminishing menstrual conditions and the disruptions they can have on your quality of life. It also ensures that any serious health issues are recognized and addressed with proper treatments.
“Because endometriosis and other pelvic conditions are progressive, debilitating and have the potential to cause infertility, early diagnosis and intervention are key factors in their management,” says Dr. Allan Adajar, gynecologic surgeon and board-certified OB/GYN at AdventHealth Medical Group.
By understanding what normal menstrual pain and bleeding is, you can seek help from a gynecologist and begin treatment before the condition becomes debilitating.
Know What’s Normal for Your Period
Typically, a normal period might look like:
- A flow that’s light, then gets heavier, then tapers off again
- Having your period every 25 to 35 days
- Mild cramping lasting a few days
Know What’s Not Normal for Your Period
Just like knowing what’s normal, it’s important to know which signs aren’t normal. Complications from your period that need a doctor’s attention include:
- Anemia requiring iron or blood transfusions
- Bleeding for more than seven days
- Pain that affects your daily life, which may indicate endometriosis
- Requiring two menstrual products at a time or using more than 10 tampons or pads per day
For Painful Periods, Our Doctors Are Here to Help Provide Answers
Our physicians work closely with hematologists, gynecologic oncologists and infertility specialists to create individualized treatment plans for women with uterine problems, which may include minimally invasive gynecological surgery such as uterine polyp removal and endometrial ablation after other options are considered.
“When surgical intervention is necessary, I believe in using the smallest and fewest incisions whenever possible to safely and effectively treat the condition. This approach often results in less post-operative pain, a faster recovery and less scaring,” says Dr. Adajar.
Following Up With Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing irregular periods or menstrual pain, contact your gynecologist or family medicine provider. These are conditions that can and should be addressed and not delayed further, and you can count on us to help you feel comfortable and informed while visiting your doctor.
To get started, let our Women’s Health Navigation team help find the right specialist for you.