Saturday, March 23, 2013

National Endometriosis Month

By Nurse Diane

When I started college, I moved into the dorm.  Across the hall was a girl who could be found curled up in her bed one week out of every month.  She would lie in bed with the lights on and a cold coke in a bottle by her bed next to a bottle of tylenol.  My friend was suffering from excruciating stomach cramps every month during her menustration cycle.  Looking back on her condition now, I'm sure she must have had endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant.  The cause is unknown, however it does run in families. Other factors contributing to endometriosis include:
  • started your period at a young age
  • Never had children
  • Have frequent periods or they last 7 or more days
  • Closed hymen, which blocks the flow of menstrual blood during the period

Symptoms include:
  • Painful periods
  • Pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
  • Cramps for a week or two before menstruation and during menstruation; cramps may be steady and range from dull to severe)
  • Pain during or following sexual intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Pelvic or low back pain that may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle

Below are some questions to ask yourself to see if you may have endometriosis:

_____ _____ Do you experience so much pain during or around your period that you find yourself unable to work, attend school or social functions, or go about your normal routine?
_____ _____ Do you have any relatives that have been diagnosed with Endometriosis?
_____ _____ Do you find yourself with painful abdominal bloating, swelling or tenderness at any time in your cycle?
_____ _____ Do you have a history of painful ovarian endometriomas (“chocolate cysts”)?
_____ _____ Do you have a history of miscarriage, infertility or ectopic pregnancy?
_____ _____ Do you experience gastrointestinal symptoms during your cycle, such as nausea or vomiting and/or painful abdominal cramping accompanied by diarrhea and/or constipation?
_____ _____ Do you have a history of fatigue and/or a lowered immunity (i.e., “sick and tired” all the time)?
_____ _____ Do you have a history of allergies, which tend to worsen around your periods?
_____ _____ If you are sexually active, do you experience pain during sexual activity?
_____ _____ Do you suffer from any other autoimmune diseases (i.e., thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis)?
_____ _____ Have you ever undergone pelvic surgery like a laparoscopy, in which Endometriosis was suspected but not definitively diagnosed?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could have Endometriosis.  Take these questions to your gynecologist for further discussion.

(All images from Google) 

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