Maureen Mason, DPT
What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis is unfortunately a common health problem in women, 1 in 10 women are dealing with this diagnosis today. It gets its name from the word endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis happens when this tissue grows outside of your uterus into other areas of your body where it doesn’t belong. It can most often be found in the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and in the abdominal area surrounding the uterus. The vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum can also be affected. Symptoms felt with Endometriosis? There are several types of symptoms that can occur with Endometriosis and women can present differently with what they may feel. Common symptoms reported are pain – severe menstrual cramps that may progressively get worse with age, or chronic pain in lower back and pelvis area. Pain with intercourse (dyspareunia), can be described as deep or superficial pain with penetration. Intestinal pain, and pain with bowel movements or urination or blood in stool or urine are also reported. In addition, patients often present with bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods. Other common complaints include difficulties with conceiving/infertility, digestive issues – IBS, constipation, bloating, and/or nausea. Diagnosis of Endometriosis? There are several ways a physician may diagnosis Endometriosis.
Pelvic exam – During a pelvic exam, your doctor will feel for large cysts or scars behind your uterus. Smaller areas of endometriosis are harder to feel.
Ultrasound – to check for ovarian cysts from endometriosis. Both vaginal or abdominal ultrasound can be helpful in diagnosis.
MRI – another common imaging test to help assess.
Laparoscopy – a surgical procedure doctors can use to look inside your pelvic area to see endometriosis tissue. Surgery is the only way to be sure you have endometriosis.
Treatment of Endometriosis? Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy specialists can help to manage and decrease symptoms of endometriosis such as painful menstrual cramping, abdominal discomfort, pelvic floor pain, and painful intercourse by treating connective tissue dysfunction, treating myofascial trigger points, visceral mobilization (helping restore the proper mobility of the internal organs, such as the uterus, bladder, colon and small intestine), correcting postural and movement dysfunction, and providing patients with the information and advice they need to take charge of their bodies. Integrative medical options such as Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage, Nutritional therapy, Yoga, Meditation, etc. can be extremely helpful as part of your rehabilitation plan. Medicine – Your doctor may prescribe things like hormonal birth control, Intrauterine device (IUD), and pain medication to help reduce pain and bleeding. Surgery is usually chosen in cases in which other interventions were not successful overall. During the surgical procedure, the surgeon attempts to locate any areas of endometriosis and remove them. After surgery, hormone treatment is often continued. Pelvic Physical therapy is important in the recovery to help improve abdominal mobility and minimize any adhesions from surgery and surgical scars. If you or anyone you know is struggling with this, please don’t hesitate to contact our office for help. Helpful references to learn more: http://endometriosis.org/ www.womenshealth.gov www.endofound.org www.acog.org