Period pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, and a reason to see a gynaecologist. Up to 10% of people who have periods and are of childbearing age suffer from endometriosis, but the root cause is unknown.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb. In a gynaecological exam, tissue may be found between the vagina and rectum, for example, or on the surfaces of the ovaries and intestines. Patches of endometriosis react to the natural menstrual cycle and to hormonal changes. This can result in a chronic infection reaction, which in turn causes period pain.
Period pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis can begin as early as in the teenage years. Most commonly, the symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods and lower abdominal pain. Pain during sexual intercourse is also possible. In the most serious cases, endometriosis can lead to infertility, and sometimes endometriosis is only found once a gynaecologist begins tests to find the cause of infertility.
A gynaecologist looks for suspected endometriosis using an ultrasound, and often the symptoms depend on where the patches of endometriosis are. For some people, endometriosis causes period pain plus pain when they defecate or urinate. Endometriosis is a hereditary disease, and it’s worth seeking medical advice in good time if it runs in your family.
Treating endometriosis – managing period pain
There is no medicine to cure endometriosis, and instead treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. A gynaecologist will draw up a treatment plan based on findings and the patient’s life situation. Period pain is treated with anti-inflammatories, and the progression of the condition can be slowed using hormonal contraception, such as the contraceptive pill or a contraceptive coil. Hormonal contraception often reduces period pain and makes periods more regular.
Surgical treatment is an option if symptoms cannot be controlled with medicine, or if the patient finds it difficult to defecate or urinate, or if a large endometriosis cyst is found on the ovaries.
For most people who have periods, period pain and endometriosis symptoms can be alleviated through acupuncture, zone therapy, and dietary changes, such as reducing your intake of red meat and sugar. The most important thing, however, is to seek professional advice if you are worried about your period pain.
Source: Duodecim Terveyskirjasto