Endometriosis is a common condition in which the special cells that make up the lining of the womb have implanted abnormally outside of the womb. These implants bleed with each period, often causing the typical symptoms of severe cramps, low back pain during the period, changes in bowel movements or bowel pain and pain with intercourse. Many women do not realize that if they are taking high doses of painkillers like Advil or Motrin during the period, miss work or school due to their period pain or have vomited or fainted due to pain, there is a very good chance that they have endometriosis. Endometriosis can also be a hidden cause of infertility.
THE COMMON THREAD IN PATIENT EXPERIENCES
Many women who seek treatment from their gynecologist or family doctor for severe menstrual cramps are dissatisfied with the care they received. They express concern that no effort was made to identify the underlying cause of their symptoms and rather, the doctor recommended simply “covering up” the symptom by suppressing the natural menstrual cycle with a hormonal contraceptive. Women worry about the side effects of hormonal contraceptives and especially about the increasing evidence that long-term use of hormonal contraceptives increase their risk of certain kinds of cancer, such as breast cancer.
The Gianna Alternative
Doctors at the Gianna Center recognize these symptoms may be a sign of endometriosis. They educate the patient about the functions of her body, and what has “gone wrong” when endometriosis is present. Testing may include hormonal tests, ultrasounds of the uterus and ovaries and sometimes more advanced imaging such as MRI. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options, which may be medical or surgical, are discussed, depending on the patient’s goals. Hormonal contraceptives are not used to treat endometriosis, as Gianna physicians believe better alternatives – with less risk and fewer side effects – exist.
Patients interested in finding out whether symptoms might be a sign of endometriosis or who are looking for an alternative to hormonal contraceptives to manage their painful periods are encouraged to schedule an initial consultation at their local Gianna Center. For patients who do not have access to a Gianna Center in their community, several Gianna affiliates offer remote consultations by phone.