Endometriosis

Endometriosis

endometriosis pain, what is it and how can it affect infertility

You’ve just had your endometriosis diagnosis and finally, you have a reason. Something to hang your hat on for all the painful periods and gut wrenching sex.

But what is endometriosis?

Hormones cause endometriosis.

We have tissue which is sticky so that when we are trying for a baby, the egg can implant. Endometriosis happens when this sticky lining goes wayward and gets outside our womb. Because it is so sticky it causes no end of trouble as it passes on its journey around our pelvic girdle, sticking bits and pieces of organs together in places they were never meant to sitck!

This causes our pain and inflammation.

You’ll notice I’m talking about the ‘we’ here. That’s because I have Endometriosis too. I had one operation which had me off work for six weeks. And then they still didn’t get all the pesky tissue, so I was on strong hormone injections for months after that. They type that they give to women with breast cancer with a needle the size of a baby’s arm. Not fun.

When it was time for another op, I called a halt to the surgery. There must be a better way, I thought.

And there is.

Where are the common places the endometrial lining sticks to?

*Ovaries and fallopian tubes
*Exterior of your uterus
*Your bowel
*Mine got itself to my kidneys!

Endometriosis pain

Endometriosis ovary pain is common around the time of our period. This is because this tissue breaks down as our hormones change during our menstrual cycle. Hence why we get more pain around the time of our period.
Over time the effects of this build and we get long-term painful adhesions or scar tissue.

Endometriosis symptoms

Signs and symptoms of endometriosis include pain just before, during, or after menstruation. This is the most common endometriosis symptom.

The level of this pain can be different from woman to woman. Many find it debilitating.

There are some key times when we experience more pain:

*During or after sex
*During bowel movements or urination

Another endometriosis symptom is ongoing lower back pain, or in the pelvis.

At the other extreme, many women with endometriosis have mild or no symptoms. They only find out when they try to conceive and struggle. It depends on where that sticky lining attaches itself to. If it’s not pulling anything that causes pain then you won’t experience any symptoms. Where you feel pain will give you a sign of where the growths are internally.

Read more about surprising causes of lower back pain.

What are the first signs of endometriosis?

It’s often tricky to tell the difference between cramps and endometriosis. As a general rule, if your cramps continue for 2 days after your period has ended, then this is one of the first signs of endometriosis.

However, cramps can also be a sign of fibroids. These are non-cancerous growths around the uterine area. The difference between fibroids and endometriosis is that pain from the former is any time of the month.

And don’t rule out how this can affect teens. When their periods start, if it throws them backwards for a few days, this can be a sign of the condition.

Likewise, regular pain during sex can be another indicator.

Endometriosis and infertility

As we’ve said, some ladies only find out they have endometriosis when they struggle with fertility. Around one third of women with the disease have trouble getting pregnant.

The issue here may be because of scarring, but no-one is sure. We see the disease pass down through families so there is a role of heredity where your risk increases if your mother had endometriosis.

There’s also another theory that it’s down to the flow of menstrual blood. Some say that blood flows back through our fallopian tubes and into our pelvic cavity instead of out of our body.

The reason people class endometriosis as an autoimmune disorder is because it’s a faulty immune system that cannot get rid of these misplaced cells. However, one theory which works against the autoimmune theory is that we’ve had abdominal cells since we were embryos. If these keep their ability to become endometrial cells, then this is just pure genetics rather than a disease.

Who is at risk?

There are several classes that put you more at risk, including:
*Women in our 30s and 40s
*no previous children
*lengthy periods, lasting over 7 days
*cycles which last less than 28 days
*started our periods before we were 12
*mother with the same endometrial symptoms

Severe endometriosis treatment

It’s possible for many women to continue their daily lives without medical intervention. They may need to take some anti-inflammatory drugs at certain times of the month, but other than that they go on with their business unaffected.
It’s only when they want a baby that things get tricky.

The standard medical treatment for severe endometriosis is to go in for a laparoscopy which is an operation which lasts a brief period. During this a small incision is inserted in your belly button, and they inflate you. And then the surgeon will remove as much of the sticky lining as they can. You then have a brief window of fertility when your reproductive areas are free of the ‘gunk’ and so able to work freely without being tangled up.

Surgical procedures sound like a life line, but they have recovery time and trust me, that’s longer than you expect.

How does reflexology help?

I don’t know. That’s the issue with reflexology there isn’t enough formal research out there. But, speaking from personal experience on both sides of the counter, it works. As I write this, we’re in the middle of COVID-19. My clients are texting me, going crazy with their symptoms flaring up and mine are doing the same. When we feel like this, it doesn’t matter what reflexology does to treat endometriosis, it’s enough to know that it does. And we’re happy for the relief it provides.

What I do know is that when you come in for a reflexology therapy for endometriosis, I’m working to balance your hormones. By doing this, everything in your abdominal area functions better. It’s getting the right messages from your brain, so by treating the source, we treat the problems.

This is the same concept as your doctor giving you birth control pills to balance out your production of oestrogen and progestin. Another way that doctors manage endometriosis symptoms is through mimicking menopause.

Neither are a splendid solution if you’re looking to get pregnant!

And so reflexology treatments are helpful. On top of that I layer in work to reduce inflammation which is great for pain reduction.

If you would like to add in an optional fertility massage then we an also help to un-stick some areas. This is something I have and although it is uncomfortable during the session, afterwards the effects are immediate.

For some ladies this means that their symptoms stabilise, and their pain diminishes. This also means that when they go for IVF of ICSI, they are better placed to have a few cycles because their issues are not reproducing as fast, giving them a greater window to try for pregnancy.

Other’s symptoms quell which improves their natural fertility and their quality of life as their pain is no longer a factor.

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