Understanding Endometriosis | Rocky Mountain Health Plans Blog

By RMHP

Endometriosis

Learn More About Endometriosis

Managing Signs & Symptoms

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. The condition is painful for many women, and symptoms include abdominal pain, digestion issues, heavy periods, and infertility. Experts estimate that anywhere from 3 to 10 percent of reproductive-aged women battle with an endometriosis diagnosis.

Fortunately, effective treatments are available. For those with endometriosis or those with concerns becoming educated is the first line of defense, including tips on how to manage or minimize its impact on your life.

Do I have endometriosis?

Your doctor is the only person who can provide a definitive diagnosis, but these are some of the top symptoms of endometriosis:

  • Pain. Women experience different types and levels of pain, including painful menstrual cramps, which  may worsen over time. Additional types of pain include long-term pain in the lower back and pelvis, deep pain during or after sex, intestinal pain, and painful bowel movements.
  • Abnormal bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods. Another condition could also lead to similar issues, which is why women with these symptoms must see their doctor.
  • Infertility issues.
  • Digestive problems. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and nausea are commonly cited symptoms.

Diagnosing endometriosis

Those experiencing the symptoms above should make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor might use these diagnostic tools to further investigate any signs of endometriosis::

  • Pelvic exam to feel for large cysts or scars
  • An ultrasound or MRI to detect ovarian cysts caused by endometriosis
  • Pain and hormonal medications. If pain improves with hormonal medicine, an endometriosis diagnosis increases
  • Laparoscopy, which is a surgical procedure used to look for endometriosis tissue and/or remove a small sample of tissue for further analysis. It is also the only way to be 100 percent certain you have endometriosis.

Endometriosis is difficult for doctors to diagnose. For those living with extreme pain unable to get a diagnosis, don’t hesitate to seek out another opinion. As an RMHP Member, you can search for providers here.

Treating and managing endometriosis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis, though there are several treatment options to help manage this painful condition. Many doctors begin with a conservative approach, using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, to help reduce pain.

Hormonal medications, like oral contraceptive pills may also be prescribed. Some women also find relief from non-traditional therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Surgery for endometriosis

If  symptoms aren’t responding to medication, or if getting pregnant remains difficult, surgery to remove lesions is  an  option depending on the advice of your provider. For severe pain, it may even be the first treatment option that is suggested.

Surgery is, at times, used in those females with infertility issues. Learn more by contacting your provider today.

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