Pain is not normal. John Cote, MD, CHI Health Ob-Gyn says if you experience painful periods, non-menstrual pelvic pain, and pain during intercourse, talk to your provider – it could be endometriosis.
Endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent disease. It occurs when endometrial cells and tissue from inside the uterus get out and attach to other areas of the body.
“We’ve found them everywhere, from fallopian tubes to ovaries and bladders, even bowels,” Dr. Cote said.
These rogue cells are stimulated by estrogen, which triggers an immune response – leading to inflammation, hypersensitivity, and ultimately: pain.
“The exact cause of endometriosis is hard to pin down. The backward flow of menstrual blood can lead to endometrial cells spilling into the pelvic cavity,” Dr. Cote said. “But there is evidence that it’s a type of autoimmune disorder, and genetics have been found to play a role.”
While endometriosis can impact fertility, there is no way to know the extent until you’re trying to conceive. “We don’t need a surgical diagnosis to start treating your symptoms, so it’s important not to wait to seek help,” Dr. Cote said. “There is no magic cure, yet, but we do have medications, hormone suppressants and physical therapies that can help. Even something as simple as changing your diet can help with inflammation, but you have to start somewhere.”