Endometriosis — it’s a pretty long name for a condition that affects around one in 10 women of reproductive age worldwide. That’s why you might have heard some people call it “endo” for short. That being said, you may not know much about this common gynecological condition or what the treatment options are for it, and that’s totally understandable.
One of the main symptoms associated with endometriosis is painful periods, but there are a number of treatment options out there that may help you manage these. Choosing the right option for you is really personal — depending on whether you want to become pregnant in the future and how severe your endometriosis is. Keep reading to learn all about the different endometriosis treatments.
What is endometriosis?
Before you learn about all the treatment options for endometriosis, it’s good to understand what it actually is. Endometriosis is a chronic condition (this means that the symptoms are persistent or long-lasting) where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (sometimes called the endometrium) starts to grow in other places in the body. This tissue can grow on other reproductive organs like your ovaries and uterine (or fallopian) tubes, or sometimes it can spread further — growing on your bowels, rectum, and bladder. Less commonly, endometriosis tissue can also grow on other organs like your lungs and kidneys.
Just as the lining of your uterus reacts to fluctuations in your hormones (it builds up during your menstrual cycle and then falls away during your period), the endometrial tissue behaves in a similar way. It thickens, but when it falls away, it has no way of leaving your body. This can cause inflammation, swelling, and lesions, and your body reacts to this by releasing prostaglandins (which are hormone-like substances) that can cause severe pain. You can learn more about endometriosis using an app like Flo.
Painful periods are just one symptom associated with endometriosis, and they aren’t easy to live with. They aren’t just “normal” period cramps, and there are lots of different ways of treating endometriosis. Other symptoms linked to endometriosis include:
- Pain during or after sex
- Heavy periods
- Spotting and bleeding when you’re not on your period
- Difficulty conceiving
- Painful bowel movements
- Chronic fatigue
The many varied symptoms of endometriosis mean that it’s not always easy to diagnose. It’s estimated that it takes between eight and 12 years to diagnose endometriosis, but when you do have a diagnosis, you can start talking to your doctor about the treatment options that may best suit you.