Endometriosis is a common health condition that strikes women during their childbearing years and can lead to painful and heavy periods that interfere with daily living. If this disorder is not treated in the early stages, then it can progress until it causes problems with fertility along with intense pain. During a normal menstrual cycle, the tissue that lines the uterus is expelled each month during menstruation. However, with Endometriosis, this tissue can grow outside of the uterus and begin to adhere to other organs within a woman’s body. At Balcones OB/GYN, we believe it is essential for all women in Austin to understand the symptoms associated with endometriosis along with who can benefit from the appropriate treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors of Endometriosis

All women are at risk to a certain degree for developing endometriosis, and there can be several different causes for the condition. Retrograde menstruation is the most common reason for endometriosis. This occurs when the endometrial cells flow back up into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body with the normal menstrual flow. Those who have had abdominal surgery, such as a c-section or hysterectomy, are also at greater risk because endometrial cells can sometimes attach to the scar left behind by a surgical incision. Immune system disorders also play a role in the development of endometriosis due to the body being unable to recognize and destroy embryonic cells that grow outside of the uterus.

Common Symptoms in Women

Although some pain and cramping during menstruation is normal, women who develop endometriosis may notice that the pain increases in severity and that it may occur during other parts of the menstrual cycle. Painful periods, known as dysmenorrhea, may begin a few days before menstruation starts and continue for several days after it has ended. The cramping may sometimes extend into the lower back and wrap around to the front abdomen. Pain that occurs during intercourse or with bowel movements and urination are also possible symptoms that can be attributed to endometriosis. Excessive bleeding during periods that interferes with normal functioning is another frequently reported symptom that causes women to seek diagnosis.

Austin Endometriosis Testing and Treatment

There are several types of testing performed at our Austin clinic to diagnose endometriosis. Often, a routine pelvic exam will reveal abnormalities that Dr. Bindford can attribute to the development of this health condition. Ultrasounds and laparoscopy may also be used to look for signs of endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. If a diagnosis of endometriosis is determined, then treatment will involve either medication or surgery depending upon the severity of the condition. Hormone therapy is the most common treatment used for mild cases of endometriosis in women who still desire to have children. Conservative surgery may also be used to remove endometrial tissue that interferes with fertility in women who are actively seeking to become pregnant. Women who have severe endometriosis and have completed their families may also be candidates for a hysterectomy. However, it is important to keep in mind that the treatment selected will depend greatly upon the severity of the endometriosis as well as the woman’s health and lifestyle.

When painful periods or excessive bleeding occur, it is always important to discuss these symptoms with Dr. Binford and the specialists at Balcones Obstetrics & Gynocology. Although cramping and heavy periods can be normal, these can also be signs that endometriosis is developing. When endometriosis is diagnosed in the early stages, a woman’s chances of a successful outcome increase with minimally-invasive treatments so that she can begin to experience a better quality of life while preserving her fertility.

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