Endometriosis is a very common condition among women 15-44 years old. It develops when the endometrium — the lining of the uterus — begins growing elsewhere in the pelvic area.
During your menstrual cycle, the endometrium thickens. During your period, it sheds. Endometrial tissue that grows outside the uterus behaves in the same way, but shedding tissue gets trapped inside your body instead of exiting through your vagina.
Endometriosis is a chronic condition that often causes pelvic pain and heavy menstrual periods. Symptoms can affect your quality of life, but they don’t have to. Samuel Van Kirk, MD, specializes in diagnosing and treating endometriosis in women of all ages.
With these tips, you can manage endometriosis and live a full, active life.
Don’t ignore pelvic pain
About 15-20% of women have pelvic pain at any given time, but many cases go unreported. Pain is the number one symptom of endometriosis, and pelvic pain of any kind is a sign that you should visit the doctor.
Pain caused by endometriosis can appear in many different ways, including chronic pelvic pain, pain with sexual intercourse, and pain with urination or bowel movements. Endometriosis can also cause irregular vaginal bleeding or abnormally heavy periods.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. Talk about your symptoms at your next well-woman exam, or schedule an OB/GYN appointment. Dr. Van Kirk generally diagnoses endometriosis with a pelvic exam and a hysteroscopy, if necessary.
Find endometriosis treatment that works for you
There’s no cure for endometriosis, but a range of different treatment options can help you manage symptoms. If you’re diagnosed with endometriosis, Dr. Van Kirk and our team work with you to find a treatment that’s right for your lifestyle.
Hormonal contraceptives can treat many of the most common endometriosis symptoms. Pills, implants, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and skin patches all reduce fertility by limiting endometrial growth inside your uterus.
Taking birth control can regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce its intensity, and help you manage endometriosis symptoms like abnormal menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain. For many women, hormonal contraceptives are enough to live comfortably with endometriosis.
Large patches of endometrial tissue growing outside your uterus can be removed with laparoscopic surgery. Removing these patches can help reduce chronic pelvic pain and inflammation.
Consider your future goals
Endometriosis is a leading cause of fertility problems for women, and about 50% of women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant. The good news is that Dr. Van Kirk can recommend treatment to improve fertility, and you can have a healthy, full-term pregnancy with endometriosis.
Surgery can remove endometrial blockages around reproductive organs to make fertilization and implantation more successful. Hormone medication (not contraceptives) can help regulate ovulation to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
If you’re living with severe endometriosis and you don’t want to get pregnant in the future, endometrial ablation or hysterectomy could be good options for you.
Endometrial ablation is a minimally invasive procedure to destroy the endometrium, while hysterectomy removes part or all of your uterus. Both procedures permanently eliminate endometriosis symptoms.
Dr. Van Kirk and our team are committed to providing compassionate, effective endometriosis care for women of all ages. Find out what endometriosis treatment could look like for you by calling our office in Redding, California, at 530-242-4129 or sending us a message online.