How Endometriosis can cause or contribute to chronic pelvic pain and what pelvic floor therapy can do to help alleviate it.
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial-like tissue grows outside of the uterus(endometrial tissue is tissue that usually grows inside of the uterus and sheds each month). The most common area for it to grow is in the abdominal cavity, where it can implant of the surface of other structures including the ovaries, bladder, rectum, and along the walls of the abdomen and pelvis.
The true prevalence of endometriosis is unknown, since it takes a laparoscopic procedure to confirm the diagnosis and others are either have no symptoms or seek no treatment (Signorello, Harlow, Cramer, Spiegelman, & Hill, 1997). However, up to 78% of women undergoing laparoscopic investigation for infertility and up to 82% of women investigated for pelvic pain were found to have endometriosis in one study (Schenken, 1996; Wellbery).
Actress Lena Dunham has been vocal about her experiences with endometriosis, most recently publishing an essay in American Vogue on electing to have a total hysterectomy after years of chronic pain due to the condition.
Pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with endometriosis can affect quality of life, including sexual health and happiness. In fact, a study published last year found that patients with endometriosis have more than twice the sexual dysfunction as compared to women without the disease (Fairbanks, Abdo, Baracat & Podgaec, 2017). Below is a list of common sexual health problems associated with endo and some strategies to help:
Some people with endometriosis report that pain and fatigue can be better or worse at certain times of the month. Keeping a diary can help identify patterns of pain associated with the cycle. Estrogen levels peak during ovulation, usually day 12-15 of the cycle, leading to higher pain levels for some with endometriosis. Knowing how your body feels during different parts of the cycle can help you make decisions about when to engage or avoid in sex to manage your pain.
March kicks off Endometriosis Awareness Month, and we'll be posting a series of articles to educate women and their loved ones on this debilitating disease. Many women are uninformed about the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy and complementary care on restoring and maintaining function, reducing pain and ultimately guide you towards a better quality of life.
Worse yet, their pain and dysfunction may be dismissed by their providers, only causing further debilitating pain and disability. Our goal this month is to support women, educate providers, and get the word out! Women should not be passed around from provider to provider, and should instead be given a treatment plan as early in the process as possible. Women should not have to wait several years to get their pain addressed. Delays in care only cause detriment to the physical and emotional well-being of these women.
1 in 10 women have endometriosis and experience different forms of pain—pain with urination, pain with bowel movements, painful periods, pelvic pain, ovulation pain, painful sex, abdominal pain, and nerve pain. The Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates 5 million American women are affected by endometriosis.
As we covered in a previous blog post, endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue (tissue that usually grows inside of the uterus) grows outside of the uterus. Endometrial tissue can implant on the surface of organs and structures including the ovaries, bladder, rectum, and along the walls of the abdomen and pelvis. These tissues can cause inflammation and pain to develop throughout the abdomen and pelvic cavity.