Now that you’ve hopefully read the Basics of Pelvic Pain and you’ve made it to this second series, you’re probably wondering if you are probably wanting to know if this is what you’ve experienced, and what can cause it. As mentioned in part 1, chronic pelvic pain is pain that has lasted for six months. It can really impact your day to day life.
I want to highlight one of the most common causes of chronic pelvic pain, called Endometriosis. It’s actually quite common – one in 10 women in the world has endometriosis, meaning that if you don’t suffer from it, you probably know someone who does. Even well-known celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Padma Lakshmi, and even the singer, Monica suffer from this painful condition.
“I have treated many patients with this condition and have seen firsthand how it affects lives.”
Endometriosis is a condition when tissue similar to the tissue from your uterine lining is found outside of the uterus. The most common places for this tissue to be found is throughout the pelvis. Because the tissue is similar to your uterine lining, it acts very similarly. Much like how your uterine lining (endometrium) acts during your menstrual cycle, this tissue that is found outside of uterus can change, shed, and reset due to the effects of the same hormones that cause your menstrual cycle.
The shedding process that occurs with this tissue outside of your uterus acts very much like your period. This tissue may bleed a little bit. This bleeding isn’t dangerous as the shedding this tissue experiences is small – (some women get worried about hemmorraging) , however this small amount of bleeding that occurs from this tissue can be very painful. This is the reason why many women with endometriosis experience extremely painful periods. Also, because this tissue can also cause scar tissue to be formed in the pelvis that can cause pain even when a woman is not having her period.
I have treated many patients with this condition and have seen firsthand how it affects lives. I have seen teenage girls not able to go to school because of how painful their periods have been. I have seen women have difficulty keeping jobs because of how often they need to take a sick day from work.
The pain can really stop you in your tracks!
If you notice that you have painful periods or frequent pelvic pain, you should go to your GYN and get checked out! We want to help you. Your gynecologist will start the evaluation by finding out about your symptoms and how they have impacted your life. Then, your gynecologist will likely perform a pelvic exam and some diagnostic tests. Usually these tests consist of an ultrasound of your pelvis and possibly some other imagining. Endometriosis is often not seen by imaging tests, like ultrasounds or MRIs, so don’t get discouraged if your GYN tells you that your ultrasound looks normal.
If you are found to have endometriosis, your GYN will discuss treatment options with you, ranging from over the counter medications like NSAIDS (link to NSAIDS in other article), all the way to surgical options. You and your GYN are partners in trying to improve your pelvic pain, so the decision to proceed medication, a surgical procedure or other treatment options will be one that you decide together.
While there is no cure for endometriosis, don’t panic – we can make your symptoms manageable, and work through it together.
If this article was helpful to you, I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to get in touch here!