Endometriosis: How Can You Be Your Own Advocate?

So how can you be your own advocate if you have endometriosis?

The classic symptoms of endometriosis are fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, pain with urination, bloating and/or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. Sounds like fun, right? In general, endometriosis is a REAL pain.

Women who have these symptoms can try a heating pad or over the counter medications like Advil, Motrin, Naproxen, or Aleve. Hormonal treatment with birth control can offer some relief, but in some cases, surgery might be necessary.

Do any of these symptoms sound like you? Have you had painful periods and sat watching television with a heating pad in your lap? If so, there’s a chance you may have endometriosis. The best way to get a diagnosis and try to manage the pain is with the help of a doctor.

Endometriosis is when the tissue that lines the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus usually in the abdomen on the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This can sincerely have an impact on a woman’s quality of life due to its very painful symptoms. It is also one of the biggest causes of infertility in women. Adding to the problem is symptoms are often missed or misdiagnosed completely. Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may also be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which further complicates the diagnosis.

This is why doing your research, raising awareness around what to look for, and finding questions to ask your doctor can be key in making sure you’re taking care of your fertility health.

If you have in the slightest concern that endometriosis may be an issue for you, be proactive and speak to your doctor. I’d suggest creating a list and writing down all of symptoms that that are worrisome to bring to your appointment. Inform your OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist what you’re experiencing. It would be especially helpful if you track a few months of your period as well as the symptoms you’re having on which days and be as specific as possible.

Don’t ignore what your body is telling you. If you feel that something is off, then you are likely right. Find a doctor you trust and can have an open and honest conversation with. Come prepared, and make sure to get answers. If you feel you’re not fully being heard, you should consider getting a second opinion until you feel you’re given real insight on what may be going on.

Some questions you may want to consider asking are:

How is endometriosis diagnosed and is there a way to confirm I have it?

Are there any medications to treat endometriosis?

Is it necessary for me to get a laparoscopy?

Are there non-invasive methods we can try before surgery?

Will endometriosis affect my ability to become pregnant?

If so, what are options when I’m ready to conceive?

If it’s not endometriosis, what else could it be?

In the end, stay positive and be your own advocate. With knowledge and persistence, it might take some trial and error to get to a comfortable place, but there are options!