Why You Need an OB-GYN Who Specializes in Endometriosis
Endometriosis is common (affecting nearly 190 million women worldwide) but poorly understood by many medical professionals. It’s hard to find endometriosis specialists who have completed advanced training. With the proper endo specialist, medical treatment or surgery can lessen your pain, improve your quality of life, and manage complications.
Endometriosis is a chronic pain condition that affects 10-15% of women of reproductive age. It causes painful periods, bleeding between periods, pain during sexual intercourse, and discomfort when passing urine or feces. Despite causing chronic pelvic pain, many medical professionals have a poor understanding of the condition.
In this article, we will look into what endometriosis is and explore how to improve diagnosis, treatment, and outcome factors.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis affects menstruating women and girls and some women post-hysterectomy or post-menopause. The condition also can affect transgender men and non-binary individuals. Endometriosis affects roughly 190 million people worldwide, with immune, genetic and hormonal factors all likely to be at play.
To understand Endometriosis, we first need to understand the endometrium or lining of the uterus.
A large proportion of the endometrium is stromal cells. Stromal cells regulate cell growth and change during the menstrual cycle.
Endometrial glands line the endometrium. During the menstrual cycle, they widen in response to greater blood flow.
Each cycle, stromal cells, and endometrial glands slough off as part of menstruation.
The presence of endometrium-like cells found outside the uterus causes the classic endometriosis symptoms. Discourse exists, but scientists have concluded a genetic basis to the cells’ presence, with endometrium-like cells migrating inappropriately during embryogenesis.
Endometriotic lesions can be in the ovaries, uterine ligaments, fallopian tubes, and pouch of Douglas (the space between the uterus and rectum). In some, lesions are present outside the pelvic cavity. Locations include the bowel, urinary tract wall, diaphragm, lungs, abdomen, and pericardium (the sack around the heart).
The endometrial-like tissue responds to the natural cycle of hormones and also produces some hormones by itself. This tissue has cycles of growth and bleeding.
Whereas menstrual blood in the uterus leaves the body via the vagina, the blood and tissues cannot escape from endometriosis lesions. This trapped cells and tissue leads to the painful processes of inflammation, adhesions, and scarring.
What does it feel like to have Endometriosis?
Although pain is the most common complaint, Endometriosis causes a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Pain on passing urine or feces
- Bowel symptoms include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or bleeding from the bowel
- Pain during intercourse
Social and Emotional Effects
Severe pain can interrupt daily life for many patients. This interruption may include missing school, taking days off work, or being unable to socialize. A study in 2020 found that in over half of women, the pain had reduced their professional, physical, and sexual activity.
Endometriosis is associated with low mood. 15% of women are diagnosed with depression, with an average age at diagnosis of 22.
Infertility can be the only symptom of Endometriosis for some women. Around 30-50% of patients cannot get pregnant owing to inflammation, pelvic adhesions, blockage of the fallopian tubes, and changes to the pelvic anatomy.
Additional symptoms are dependent on the location of endometriosis lesions. For example, an endometriotic lesion in the lung could cause breathlessness or chest pain. A study of over 2000 patients found that endometriotic nodules caused leg and buttock pain, as well as numbness, similar to sciatic pain.
Misdiagnosis and incorrect management are therefore common for women with symptoms that are not classic to pelvic endometriotic lesions.
The average delay in the diagnosis of Endometriosis is more than seven years, leading to “unnecessary suffering and reduced quality of life.” This delay leads many people to the internet to conduct their own research before and during diagnosis. However, the internet is awash with myths.
The importance of educating yourself via a reputable source such as iCareBetter cannot be understated.
Find Endometriosis Specialists for Appropriate Diagnosis & Treatment
The widespread misunderstanding of Endometriosis hinders its diagnosis and treatment. The inappropriate investigation, treatment with analgesics, or hormonal suppression do little to manage the cause while delaying diagnosis. Women who felt they were not listened to nor understood by doctors have described frustration, anger, annoyance, and sadness.
Reassuringly, appropriate diagnosis and treatment can lead to significant improvements in pain. This is precisely why it is crucial to find an endometriosis specialist. Only highly specialized surgeons with a comprehensive team can perform a thorough excision to remove endometriotic lesions, including extra-pelvic locations. Complete removal can significantly improve overall outcomes, including relief from pain and increased quality of life.
iCareBetter Endometriosis Care
iCareBetter is a platform that connects patients with experts in endometriosis care. At iCareBetter, patients have access to surgeons who have completed advanced training. These professionals have shown expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of complex Endometriosis. iCareBetter utilizes a transparent and unbiased system to ensure that only doctors with proven advanced excision skills and a comprehensive care team can be on their surgeons’ list.
Patients can select their surgeon based on their specific symptoms. This empowers patients to consult a doctor who truly understands the complexity of their condition. Patients can access specialists for endometriosis in the pelvis, bowels, bladder, thorax, heart, or diaphragm. They also can find help with infertility issues.
A highly specialized endo surgeon will take a holistic approach to treatment. This holistic approach includes managing secondary comorbidities such as infertility, even in stage III and IV disease patients.
At iCareBetter, patients can also access expert physical therapists who understand the condition. Working with a physical therapist gives access to myofascial release techniques, visceral mobilization, and the tools to manage a susceptible nervous system for better pain management.
Team-based expert care improves post-operative outcomes. For some iCareBetter doctors, post-treatment reports of satisfactory pain relief could be over 80%, with less than 20% of women requiring subsequent pelvic surgery. Moreover, many patients see reduced pain relief requirements post-recovery.
Standards of excellence, such as those endorsed by iCareBetter, must become a driving force behind treatment protocols for Endometriosis. Women should no longer shoulder the pain and reduced quality of life associated with substandard care.
Endometriosis occurs due to the presence of endometrium-like cells found outside the uterus. The resulting inflammation, adhesions, and scarring can cause severe pain and symptoms related to the location of the lesions. By connecting patients with expert surgeons in endometriosis care, iCareBetter empowers patients to access the care leading to better outcomes. Advanced surgical excision, physical therapy, and an expert team-based approach can reduce pain, as well as skillfully manage secondary complications.
Find endometriosis specialists today.