Endometriosis: The Invisible Illness End

Endometriosis: The Invisible Illness
Endometriosis is this big long word which means that tissue similar to what normally lines the uterus is now growing outside of the uterus in places like the abdominal and pelvic cavity. The issue arises when this tissue begins to form implants/adhesions. Endometriosis affects nearly 1 in every 10 women and is one of the top three causes of female infertility.
To give you a visual: Imagine all the organs present in the abdomen and pelvis. Now think what it would look like if someone put something really sticky in there in little spots; it starts to stick things together. Those organs and tissues wouldn’t want to move very well. Every time you move, have a bowel movement, have sex, eat a meal, exercise to intensely, it pulls on all these sticky spots and creates pain. The interesting thing is someone with more severe endometriosis may not have any pain and someone with mild endometriosis may have extreme pain; in other words, there is no correlation to the severity of the disease and the symptoms someone will experience.
Researchers have a lot of theories about what causes this special uterine tissue to end up outside of the uterus but they are just theories; no one has been proven but some are more supported than others. Regardless, these women are living with potentially a load of symptoms. These symptoms can range from abdominal pain, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse or bowel movements, urinary urgency, constipation, extreme fatigue, pain in the hips/legs, low back pain, etc. Many women experience a worsening of their symptoms in relation to their menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, it usually takes 10+ years for women to receive an accurate diagnosis. During this time these women are seeing a bunch of doctors, working and attending to their daily life demands, fighting fatigue and pain, and getting told their tests are normal try this-or-that but nothing affects their pain. There are several treatment options ranging from conservative management-medications-surgical intervention that can be determined by an endometriosis specialist. Part of this plan should include pelvic floor physical therapy as it can address many of the symptoms stated earlier and also address tension and restrictions that have likely built up from years of pain and change in movement patterns.
This is a brief on endometriosis and by no means does it hit the depths of this disease. A good amount of information has been gained in the last several years but more is needed to help these women get the care they need. March is National Endometriosis Awareness month. Maybe you’ve heard, maybe you have not; maybe you know someone, maybe you do not; maybe this is you, maybe it’s not. If it is you, reach out to your local pelvic floor physical therapist with questions, for help, or relief and advocate for yourself and the ones you love.

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