Endometriosis Awareness Month

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

Each year in March, the Endometriosis Association dedicates the time to spread awareness about how endometriosis affects women and how it makes life more difficult for them. The organization began Endometriosis Awareness Month in 1993. Endometriosis affects over 10% of women between ages 15 and 44 in the United States. According to one study, it is estimated that between the years of 2006-2015, 15,000 women visited the Emergency Room per year for severe endometriosis pain.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of the uterus develops on the outside of the organ instead of within.  When this occurs, the results can be incredibly painful and discomforting. Sadly, women who are affected by endometriosis are often not taken seriously, and they struggle with communicating the extent of the pain they endure. The Endometriosis Association is raising awareness as to their suffering, and they maintain that "Normal periods do not cause excruciating pain. Endometriosis does."

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Women with endometriosis will have symptoms that can range in severity. One common symptom is general pain and discomfort in the pelvic region. Other symptoms can cause complications such as infertility and heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles. Endometriosis can also cause digestive and gastrointestinal problems. The condition often goes undetected, mostly due to the lack of education and awareness about the disease.

Diagnosing Endometriosis

Doctors can diagnose endometriosis by performing a laparoscopy. During the procedure, the doctor will make a small incision in the abdomen, then insert a small camera to take a look into the pelvic region. The doctor will then look for implanted scar tissue, endometrial tissue, or cysts associated with the condition. Endometriosis breaks down into four stages, and doctors use a point system to categorize these stages. Doctors also base these stages on the location, size, depth, and amount of endometrial implants in the area.

Endometriosis: Stage One

During stage one, or minimal endometriosis, doctors rate the condition on a point scale from one to five. Minimal endometriosis means that there is a minimum amount of implants on the outside of the uterus. While the diagnosis might indicate low levels of pain and discomfort, the condition does not imply that these levels are actually "minimal." The term suggests that there are lower levels of implanted tissue than as with the following stages.

Endometriosis: Stage Two

With stage two endometriosis, doctors will find more implants that are more deeply embedded. Doctors refer to it as "mild" endometriosis, since there are slightly more implants on the uterus than there are with stage one. Stage two endometriosis has a score of six to fifteen points. Frequent episodes of pain and discomfort in the pelvic region are just as regular as any other stage of endometriosis, and these episodes can be just as painful.

Endometriosis: Stage Three

Stage three endometriosis is a "moderate" stage of the disease. Doctors call it moderate because there is also an increased likelihood of small cysts on one or both ovaries than the previous stages, as well as notable adhesions. An adhesion is scar tissue that binds organs together when pelvic tissue becomes damaged. Endometrial cysts form when tissue attached to an ovary begins to shed blood and tissue. Doctors grade stage three endometriosis at a grade between sixteen and forty points.

Endometriosis: Stage Four

During the fourth and final stage of endometriosis, the symptoms are much more intense. Doctors call the final stage severe endometriosis. Ovarian cysts are larger, adhesions are thicker, and implants are deeper. These implants may also have traveled to other organs, such as the heart, lungs, or even the brain. Stage four endometriosis occurs with a rating of forty points or more.

The Alarming Symptoms of Endometriosis

Some symptoms of endometriosis can make life more difficult because of the intense pain and discomfort. Doctors need to know when they occur, especially if an individual has not yet received a diagnosis for endometriosis.
  • Periods. Typically, menstrual cycles should not last longer than six days. In patients with endometriosis, periods can last longer than a week, depending on the severity of the condition. Patients will also experience more massive menstrual cycles than usual. Heavier periods cause excessive bleeding and much more pain in the abdominal and pelvic regions. The pain from these cycles can make everyday activities more difficult. Menstrual pain caused by endometriosis can begin days before a cycle, and continue for days after.
  • Nausea. Women do not typically feel the type of nausea experienced by those with endometriosis during their menstrual cycle. Nausea can last for days and can go on for days after a period ends. Nausea usually follows with vomiting, exhaustion, dehydration, and overall discomfort.
  • Fatigue. Even the worst menstrual cycle an average woman has doesn't compare to periods for those with even the mildest endometriosis conditions. For these women, there can be spans of days at a time where they will feel achy, tired, and very exhausted in general.
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, doctors can use hormonal treatments and excision surgeries to help control the symptoms that cause the pain and discomfort involved.

The Edometriosis Associan states "It is our vision that, worldwide every girl, woman, and family affected by endometriosis and its related diseases will have support, knowledge, and help." 

If you believe you may have endometriosis, take the Endometriosis Symptoms Survey at Endometriosis Association.org. If you have symptoms of endometriosis pain, severe blood loss, nausea, vomiting or are dehydrated from vomiting, The Emergency Center is here for you 24/7/365, with NO WAIT. You can even call the location nearest you to reserve a room.

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