The type of discomfort experienced during the menstrual cycle, for those afflicted with endometriosis, is of a nature that can leave you breathless for brief moments. It is an ailment that manifests suddenly, like a wave composed of intense visceral cramps and contractions that rage on for what seems like an eternity. It is the short span of time necessary to transmit a sharp pang that induces bending over, takes away breath, and sometimes clouds vision, even leading to loss of consciousness.
Dealing with such pain on a monthly basis is extremely limiting. Imagine having to organize your life around your menstrual cycle – an exam to take on those days, a long-planned trip coinciding with those days, the concert of your favorite artist, or an appointment you absolutely don’t want to miss. Yet, you find yourself in the midst of the menstrual cycle.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition characterized by the abnormal presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Instead of being completely expelled during the menstrual cycle, this tissue, which normally sheds monthly, partially ascends and infiltrates the pelvic area. It can localize around the ovaries, tubes, on the surface of the intestine, and bladder. Every month, this excess tissue grows, giving rise to scar formations that cause adhesions between the involved organs, as well as the formation of endometrial cysts and fibroids.
Symptoms of endometriosis:
- Very strong pain during menstruation
- In some cases, the pain is constant and persistent, even without menstruation
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during urination and bowel movements
What to do if you experience excessively painful menstruation
Seek the advice of a gynecologist or a center specialized in endometriosis. If you have experienced severe pain and have consulted doctors who did not understand it, our advice is to turn to specialists in endometriosis. Through careful medical history, you can obtain a diagnosis or be directed elsewhere for further investigations. Do not underestimate the pain, and do not let anyone tell you it’s normal. And do not wait too long for a diagnosis.
Treatments for endometriosis:
Among the treatments proposed for endometriosis, the use of estrogen-progestin or progestin alone can improve the symptomatology by eliminating hormonal stimulation and the growth of endometrial implants. It is important that these preparations are taken continuously to prevent the shedding of endometrial tissue, similar to menstruation, which promotes further passage of endometrium through the tubes. In essence, estrogen-progestin pills in women with symptomatic endometriosis should be taken continuously, without the cyclic interruption of a few days.
The most debilitating treatment with GnRH analogs, drugs that completely block ovarian stimulation and thus hormonal production, creating an iatrogenic endocrine and clinical state of menopause (with inevitable side effects such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, increased risk of osteoporosis), is limited to cases requiring surgery. Nowadays, several studies are underway with compounds that, while inhibiting ovarian stimulation like GnRH analogs, create fewer side effects.
Endometriosis is included in the list of chronic and disabling conditions, in the most advanced clinical stages (“moderate or stage III” and “severe or stage IV”), recognizing these patients’ right to benefit from certain specialized control services through exemptions. An estimated 300,000 exemptions are estimated.