Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body.
This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant. While some women with endometriosis remain asymptomatic, others experience dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, non-cyclical pelvic pain, and sub-fertility. According to Dr. Rebecca Brightman, a Board Certified OBGYN in private practice in New York City “There are a variety of ways to treat endometriosis and natural therapies can supplement other methods of disease management. Some women can benefit from diet modifications or exercise. Some women use a heated water bottle or take hot baths to help relieve symptoms, as heat can improve blood flow and may relieve pain. These methods can help manage the symptoms of endometriosis along with treatment recommended by your healthcare provider.”
It has been scientifically proved that, Physical activity releases endorphins, which can lessen feelings of pain. It can also improve circulation and lower the amount of estrogen in the body (Endometriosis is classified as an estrogen-dependent disease). “Some types of exercise that may be beneficial include walking, jogging or yoga. Since every woman is different, it is a good idea to check with your healthcare provider regarding the right amount and type of exercise that is best for you.” she adds further in accordance for March as Endometriosis Awareness Month. Pilates exercises can be especially helpful for women with endometriosis, because they provide focused exercise to the pelvic floor, the area where endometriosis pain is typically located. The additional full-body movements help improve your overall health as well.
Common Myths & Facts About Endometriosis
Endometriosis affects an estimated one in 10 women, but there is a lack of knowledge and conversation about endometriosis symptoms among women and healthcare professionals. More education is needed for women on how to identify the symptoms of endometriosis and how to address them with their healthcare provider.
Along with that, many women are told by their HCPs that the pain associated with their endometriosis is “normal” or “simply part of being a woman.” Professionals need to be more aware of evaluating and treating endometriosis, understand its impact on their patients’ daily lives and support proper communication of symptoms with their patients.
Finally, women should feel empowered to share their concerns to help ensure key information about endometriosis symptoms is not left out during their appointments. There are resources available to help. Websites such as MeinEndo.com offer tools including an endometriosis checklist and symptom tracker, which can help you log how much pain you experience on an average day and how often; if there’s a time of day when symptoms are worse or better; if specific activities worsen or relieve the pain; or if the pain comes and goes.
Endometriosis & Cancer Risk
Endometriosis does not cause cancer but there may be an association between endometriosis and certain types of ovarian cancer. Your individual risks should be discussed with your HCP. Still ,”We’ve got pretty good evidence that there’s some increase in the risk for ovarian cancer” with endometriosis, said Louise Brinton, PhD, Chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology branch at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Brinton’s interest in the long-term effects of endometriosis led her to Sweden about 20 years ago. Using the country’s national inpatient register, she identified more than 20,000 women who had been hospitalized for endometriosis. After an average follow-up of more than 11 years, the risk for cancer among these women was elevated by 90% for ovarian cancer, 40% for hematopoietic cancer (primarily non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), and 30% for breast cancer. Having a longer history of endometriosis and being diagnosed at a young age were both associated with increased ovarian cancer risk.
What about endometriosis and infertility?
In the words of leading ObGyn Dr. Rebecca Brightman “Endometriosis affects every woman differently, and while difficulty getting pregnant can be a symptom for some, it does not affect every woman with endometriosis. If you suspect you may be experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, I recommend discussing this concern with your HCP.”
The treatment for endometriosis is essentially chosen by each individual woman, depending on symptoms, age, and fertility. For many women, adequate treatment requires a combination of treatments given over their lifetime. The current treatments include medical, surgical, or a combination of these approaches.