If you’re dealing with painful periods, endometriosis might be the cause. Here’s how to get a quick diagnosis of endometriosis – because a delayed diagnosis leads to more problems – and start healing the pain of your periods.
In Stop Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain: What Every Woman and Her Doctor Need to Know, Dr Andrew Cook explains why so many patients are misunderstood and misdiagnosed, why most endometriosis surgery is done poorly, the principles and correct techniques for effective endometriosis surgery, and how to find the best doctors and healthcare providers. This book embraces a women’s perspective and provides much-needed support for women who have suffered from the pain of endometriosis.
In this article, I summarize a research review that shows you’ll get a faster diagnosis of endometriosis if you describe your symptoms as fertility-related, not a menstrual issue. In other words, if you tell your doctor or gynecologist that you’re worried about fertility and getting pregnant, you might get diagnosed with endometriosis faster than if you just say your periods are painful.
A fast diagnosis of endometriosis is important. Not just so you can be free of painful periods or learn how to regulate your menstrual cycle, but to prevent the disease from progressing. You don’t want endometriosis to lead to fertility problems or difficulties getting pregnant
Why Getting an Endometriosis Diagnosis Takes a Long Time
Women sometimes delay seeking treatment for painful periods. “[In this research review], some women initially delayed seeking help for their symptoms because they believed all women had painful periods,” says Kate Young of the Jean Hailes Research Unit at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (and lead reviewer of this study on endometriosis and painful periods). “When women revealed their symptoms to a family member, friend or medical professional their experiences were typically normalised as being what all women must endure.”
If you’re dealing with painful periods, don’t procrastinate
I’ve written several articles about menstruation – even the benefits of getting your period – and so many readers ask for help with painful or irregular periods. I keep telling women to go see a gynecologist, family doctor, or natural health practitioner as soon as possible. Don’t rely on the internet for help with painful periods or a diagnosis of endometriosis. It could take a long time to get medically diagnosed, and the endometriosis could get worse while you’re waiting.
Two more reasons an endometriosis diagnosis takes time, according to this research review, is that women often felt frustrated and angry at unsatisfactory experiences with healthcare providers. Also, women are concerned about the effectiveness and side effects of treatments for endometriosis. Sometimes painful periods are easier to deal with, versus facing the unknown side effects of endometriosis treatments or medications.
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How Endometriosis Affects a Woman’s Life
Common symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, painful sex and infertility. Endometriosis affects a woman’s sex life, personal relationships, work life, and emotional well-being. If you’re dealing with painful periods and you’re not sure if endometriosis is the cause, make an appointment with a gynecologist right away.
The most important piece of advice in this research review – which is called Women’s experiences of endometriosis: a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research and published in Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care – is that endometriosis often takes a long time to be diagnosed and affects all areas of a women’s life. You can get a faster diagnosis and heal from painful periods if you talk to your doctor about fertility, not menstruation.
If you’re not sure about how to talk to your doctor about painful periods and the impact on your future attempts to get pregnant, read How Endometriosis Affects Your Fertility.
A tip for gynecologists who have patients with painful periods or endometriosis: “Women want their doctors to really listen to their experience and concerns,” says Young. “They want to explain the true impact of the condition on their lives, rather than simply rank their pain on a scale from one to 10.” Her study found that further research was needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of painful periods and endometriosis as experienced by diverse groups of women.
If you’re dealing with painful periods caused by endometriosis, go see your family doctor, gynecologist, or naturopathic health doctor as soon as possible. Don’t give this disease the chance to spread.
I welcome your thoughts on endometrosis as a cause of painful periods, but I can’t give medical or health advice.