My Periods Are Painful: Could I Have Endometriosis?

From the moment a girl makes her way through puberty, her menstrual cycles begin and only end as she passes through menopause. For the fortunate few, these menstrual cycles come and go each month without any side effects. Unfortunately, 80% of women experience painful periods at some point in their lives, sometimes due to underlying conditions, such as endometriosis.

To determine whether endometriosis is behind your painful periods, Ulas Bozdogan, MD, and our team here at Advanced Endometriosis Center have pulled together the following information on the relationship between painful periods and endometriosis.

The many causes of painful periods

The medical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhea, and more than half of women who menstruate experience 1-2 days of discomfort during their cycles. This discomfort usually comes in the form of cramps, and we refer to this condition as primary dysmenorrhea.

Secondary dysmenorrhea, however, stems from a problem in your reproductive system that leads to painful periods as a side effect. 

There are several culprits behind secondary dysmenorrhea, including:

The best place to start when you’re experiencing painful periods is to have us first determine whether it’s primary or secondary dysmenorrhea.

The role of endometriosis in painful periods

Since we’re discussing the role of painful periods when it comes to endometriosis, let’s review what endometriosis is and why it leads to discomfort.

Endometriosis is fairly common, affecting more than 11% of women  ages 15-44 in the United States. The condition occurs when your endometrium — the lining of your uterus — grows outside of your uterus. When this occurs, the most common places it grows is on the following:

As your menstrual cycles continue, the endometrium acts as if it were inside your uterus, thickening each month. When it comes time to shed out, however, it has nowhere to go, which leads to adhesions.

These adhesions and lack of egress for the tissue are what lead to painful periods, which is often characterized by:

There are other telltale signs of endometriosis outside of your menstrual cycles, including pain during bowel movements and pain during intercourse.

It’s important to note that many of these symptoms can be caused by other problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and uterine fibroids, so we recommend that you come see us so we can get to the bottom of your problem. After a thorough evaluation, we can determine whether your painful periods are primary or secondary and find an appropriate treatment.

If you have painful periods, we can get to the root of your problem and help get you healthy again. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Endometriosis Center today.

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