Endometriosis: More Than Just Cramps

Endometriosis: More Than Just Cramps

Do you experience pelvic pain? Painful periods? Bladder pain? Pain with intercourse? Are you wondering if it could be endometriosis?

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month.

The goal of this month is to increase public awareness of endometriosis, as many people who menstruate don’t know that the symptoms listed above are not normal and there is help available.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) forms and implants in areas outside the uterus. This tissue has been found on organs and structures inside the pelvis and abdomen (bladder, ureters, ovaries, bowels, ligaments, etc) and outside the pelvis and abdomen (diaphragm, lungs, pericardium, etc). Endometriosis is inflammatory: the endometriosis tissue found on areas outside the uterus can bleed when a person is menstruating.

Is Endometriosis common?

1 in 10 women or people born with a uterus are estimated to have endometriosis. To put that number in context, it is similar to the number of people who have asthma or diabetes, but much less is known about endometriosis compared to those diseases. Many people experience significant delays in endometriosis diagnosis: 5-12 years on average.

What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?

Some common symptoms include:

  • Painful periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Pelvic pain
  • Low back pain
  • Bladder pain, frequency/urgency
  • Pain with bowel movements

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

The current gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopic surgery with lab verification. However, thanks to doctors like Dr. Mathew Leonardi at McMaster (Hamilton Health Sciences), more clinicians are now trained to see endometriosis on ultrasound imaging.

Does more endometriosis tissue mean more pain?

The surprising answer is no. Some people have a lot of endometriosis tissue, but little to no symptoms. Others have very little endometriosis tissue, but a lot of pain. How can this be possible? All pain is an output of the brain and all pain is real. Pain is produced when the brain detects a threat. Threats can be biological, psychological, and/or social in nature.

What treatment is available for Endometriosis?

There are both surgical and conservative treatment options for endometriosis.

For surgery, the current gold standard is excision surgery with a surgeon who is both highly knowledgeable about endometriosis and skilled in locating and removing endometriosis tissue.

Whether or not a person chooses to have surgery, the current evidence supports a BioPsychoSocial and team approach to care. Healthcare providers who can provide activity guidance, manual therapy, pelvic floor assessment and treatment, adjunctive therapies (TENS or acupuncture), nutrition advice, mental health support, and medication are all important parts of your care team.

We are here to help you!

At Fit For Life Physiotherapy, we have a team that can help. Our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OMPs), Massage Therapists, Registered Dietician, and Kinesiologist/Yoga Therapist work together to address the biopsychosocial aspects of your pain experience. We create an individualized plan of care that is unique to you and meets your needs.

Unsure where to start? Call us today to book a free 15 min consultation with one of our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists. We can help steer you in the right direction! 905-333-3488 or email fitforlifephysio@gmail.com.

Orthopaedic and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist at Fit For Life Physiotherapy, Wendy Hancock.  

Wendy Hancock is an Orthopaedic and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
She incorporates manual therapy, individualized exercise, acupuncture, education and other modalities to help her clients achieve success! 

Ready to feel your best? 
Click here to book an appointment with Wendy.