Endometriosis is a chronic reproductive condition that not only contributes to significant pain during menstruation but may cause crippling pain and other symptoms throughout the month. There are several treatment strategies designed to minimize pain and possibly reduce the incidence of infertility associated with endometriosis.
Control Menstrual Pain
Although not all women with endometriosis will have severe menstrual pain, it is a common symptom. If you find your periods are especially troublesome, you may benefit from developing a pain control regimen. Anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly recommended for menstrual pain. Sometimes you will gain better pain control by sticking to a medication regimen as soon as your pain starts. Talk with your doctor about exact dosing, but alternating between an anti-inflammatory and acetaminophen may help. Some women take a combination of anti-inflammatory pain medications and acetaminophen at each dose, since each medication works differently.
Often once pain spirals out of control, it is difficult to regain control, making an established regimen ideal. Another option is discussing the benefits of prescription pain medications for use during your menstrual period. Some prescription anti-inflammatory medications, such as diclofenac or indomethacin, may work better than what you can purchase over the counter. Tramadol is another option that may be helpful when combined with anti-inflammatory medications.
Try Preventative Medications
Some women may not be able to adequately control pain during their period, or they might experience pain associated with endometriosis throughout the month. Ideally, you should consider using medications that are designed to reduce endometrial tissue from building up. Some common treatments are using certain hormonal birth control methods. Typically, progestin-only methods are used, such as pills or the IUD. Not only can these methods make your periods less painful or even stop them altogether, but they can prevent endometrial tissue that has implanted outside of the uterus from growing and sloughing off.
If you do not have any risk factors that prevent you from taking estrogen, such as smoking or a history of blood clots, you may benefit from using continuous cycle birth control. With a continuous cycle birth control, you do not take any placebos to bring on your period. This means you may skip your period for three or more months at a time, thereby significantly reducing the build-up of endometrial tissue. Another benefit to using hormonal methods is they may reduce or eliminate other symptoms that commonly occur with endometriosis, such as the exacerbation of irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic pain and pressure, and/or bleeding between periods.
Surgery is often a last resort when medication cannot control symptoms or endometriosis is believed to contribute to issues with infertility. One type of surgery is used to remove endometrial tissue that is in the abdominal cavity. Typically, the surgical procedure is performed laparoscopically and the tissue is either removed or cauterized. Since endometriosis can cause extensive scarring in the abdominopelvic cavity, as many adhesions are removed as possible to prevent organs from sticking to each other.
Although surgery can help, it may not solve all problems associated with endometriosis. In some cases, all the endometrial tissue and adhesions cannot be removed, or they may grow back over time. Combining surgery with preventative treatments may keep ongoing problems to a minimum. Removing adhesions may also benefit women who are post-menopausal and had endometriosis during their reproductive years. Unfortunately, the adhesions can contribute to bowel problems, pain, and pressure well after menopause. A hysterectomy may also be performed when pain becomes debilitating and other options have been exhausted.
Endometriosis may go undiagnosed for many years until it is confirmed by exploratory surgery. Once a diagnosis is made, the journey can begin to find a combination of treatments to make the condition less of an interference in your life. Make an appointment at a clinic like Heart Of Florida OB/GYN Associates to learn more.