Despite being one of the most common gynecologic issues in women — affecting up to 11% of women ages 15-44 — endometriosis is also one of the most commonly missed and misdiagnosed issues.
As our name suggests, the team here at Advanced Endometriosis Center has devoted our practice to helping women with endometriosis, which can be a complex and life-altering condition. Under the experienced and skilled guidance of Dr. Ulas Bozdogan, our goal is to provide both definitive diagnoses and solutions for women with endometriosis.
In this month’s blog post, we’re going to touch on why endometriosis can be so tricky and how you can recognize some early signs.
Misplaced tissues and cells
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells and tissues that normally line the inside of your uterus grow outside of the organ. This is a very simple explanation of a complex condition, but it gets at the true issue with endometriosis — you have tissues and cells growing where they don't belong.
These misplaced tissues can grow in a number of areas, such as on your ovaries and fallopian tubes. Furthermore, the misplacement of these tissues often isn't the end of the story. They can lead to pain, cause heavy bleeding, interfere with fertility, and cause a host of other issues.
This is because these tissues are hormone responsive, and they can grow and change during hormonal fluctuations, such as during your menstrual cycles. But, unlike properly located endometrial tissues inside your uterus, which exit your vagina with each period, the tissues outside of your uterus have nowhere to go, which can cause many complications.
The types of endometriosis
Endometriosis can be progressive, which is why experts have devised a four-stage system to determine the extent of the condition.
- With this stage, the peritoneum is affected, but little else
- With this stage, cysts have formed on the ovaries
- This stage consists of deep infiltrating endometriosis that involves other pelvic organs
- With this stage, the endometriosis travels outside of the pelvic organs, affecting the heart, lungs, and even the brain
As you can imagine, symptoms depend upon the stage of endometriosis, and there are many degrees of severity within each of these stages.
Problems with early diagnosis
There are several reasons why endometriosis is often missed or misdiagnosed. First and foremost, determining what constitutes abnormal discomfort during a menstrual cycle can be tricky under the best of circumstances.
Some women experience very little cramping and no premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, while others go through moderate to severe PMS and fairly painful cramps. Not to mention, pain is highly subjective.
So, if painful periods are one of the hallmarks of endometriosis, but your periods are always slightly painful, should you be worried? That’s a tough call, but one we feel you should investigate, even if we find nothing. In the end, at least you know.
Another issue is that women may be hesitant to discuss their sex lives and painful intercourse, which is another common sign of endometriosis.
Lastly, endometriosis may not lead to any discomfort at all, but you might experience other issues, such as infertility.
As you can see, there are some gray areas when getting to a diagnosis, but they’re ones we want to clear up so you can get the endometriosis care you need.
If you suspect something may not be right with your reproductive health, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have us take a look. To get started, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Endometriosis Center today. We have offices in New York City and Hackensack, New Jersey.