Severe pain in the pelvic area can be a cause for concern – or confusion – for a woman. Is it just normal menstrual cramps – or something more threatening?
Depending on the symptoms, it could be endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside the uterus. The displaced tissue acts as it normally would –thickening, breaking down and bleeding during your menstrual cycle – but it is also trapped with no way to leave your body. If your ovaries are involved, cysts may form, and surrounding tissue can become irritated.
All of which explains why you’re experiencing pelvic pain, the primary symptom of endometriosis. Other symptoms may include:
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cycles). Cramping and pelvic discomfort may start before your period and last for several days. It may be accompanied by pain in your lower back and abdomen.
- Excessive bleeding. Your period may be heavy (known as menorrhagia) or you may experience bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- Painful urination or bowel movements. This will likely occur during your period. It may include pain when you have a full bladder, an urgent or frequent need to urinate, diarrhea, or a burning sensation when you urinate.
- Abdominal and gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, bloating, or nausea.
- Severe fatigue. This is a common occurrence due to the loss of blood during a heavy menstrual cycle.
- Twenty to 40 percent of women who have endometriosis are unable to have a child. The reason for this isn’t clear, but one theory is that the condition changes the chemical and hormonal composition in the fluid that surrounds the organs in the abdominal cavity, thus changing the menstrual cycle and preventing pregnancy.
- Pain during or after sex. Misplaced endometrialtissue can affect uterine nerves or ligaments, making intercourse painful since thrusting pushes and pulls at the growths.
Because of these symptoms, endometriosis is often mistaken for other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or those that also cause pelvic pain such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. The only way to know for sure if you have endometriosis is to see your doctor, who will use lab tests and imaging to make that determination.
If you are diagnosed with the disorder, treatment may include:
- Hormone medication in the form of progestogen or estradiol.
- Laparoscopic surgery to repair or remove tissue.
- Endometrial ablation, in which the lining of the uterus is surgically reduced to help stymy heavy menstrual flow.
Endometriosis can be a long-lasting – if not life-long – chronic disease. But with an early diagnosis and a multidisciplinary medical approach, it can be effectively managed. Much like other chronic conditions, pain can become a serious concern. The pain management specialists at Balcones Pain Consultants in Austin, Texas not only offer therapy for pain relief and healing, but also can answer any questions you may have. Your pain management specialist can communicate with other doctors to get a better understanding of your unique condition, and plan treatment accordingly.
Call (512) 834-4141 to discuss your condition and learn about our options for pain relief. Balcones Pain Consultants have locations in Austin, Cedar Park and Market Falls, Texas.