Endometriosis and Our Teens

 

 

Endometriosis: What You Don’t Know

 

Instead of the menstrual fluids being shed during a female’s monthly period, some of these fluids backflow or remain in the body and plant themselves on the outside of the uterus, the bladder, the intestines, the ovaries, or even the lungs and the brain.

 

The related pain (in varying degrees, depending on the patient) can manifest itself during urination, periods, and/or bowel movements. Endometriosis sufferers can also experience chronic pelvic pain, lower back pain, and/or painful intercourse. This disease, in some cases, can even lead to infertility.

 

Women can suffer for years before finally seeking treatment or receiving an accurate diagnosis. One of the main reasons is that endometriosis can be masked as other diseases or medical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, bowel obstruction, ovarian cysts, appendicitis, diverticulitis, fibroids, or other pelvic disorders, including bacterial infections that are treated with antibiotics. The average age for diagnosis is 27 (often being discovered because of infertility), but girls as young as 11 have been diagnosed.

 

Dr. David Redwine, MD, a gynecologist, surgeon, and the author of 100 Questions & Answers About Endometriosis, notes that the average delay in diagnosis is 8 to 10 years. Dr. Redwine established the Endometriosis Treatment Program at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend Oregon. His work has led to new research on the disease.

 

Getting a correct diagnosis can be achieved if you seek a physician who is familiar with treating endometriosis. Often, a family history and initial pelvic exam will be enough to determine if further testing is necessary. A laparoscopic procedure can allow a surgeon to look inside the abdomen and confirm whether or not lesions are present. If so, the lesions can also be removed laparoscopically, which will help alleviate the pain (if the pain is strictly related to endometriosis and not from other pelvic disorders).

 

According to the Endometriosis Foundation of America, over 8 million women in North America suffer from endometriosis, and the number climbs to 176 million on a worldwide scale. The known costs are staggering, an estimated 22 billion annually, and include both medical treatment and lack of productivity.

 

Endometriosis is not a sexually transmitted disease and it is not communicable. The disease is not treatable with medication. Surgery itself cannot cure endometriosis, only treat the condition. For example, lesions can be removed by laparoscopic surgery in most cases. Hysterectomy should only be considered if all other options fail.

 

Surgery can also help treat infertility if it is caused by inflammation from endometriosis. IVF (in vitro fertilization) is another option for women suffering from infertility.

 

 

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