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For many women, cramping and discomfort accompany every monthly period. But if you’re noticing pelvic and back pain that worsens through your cycle, talk to your doctor. It could be a sign of a condition called endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs when menstrual blood doesn’t drain normally, building up inside the body instead. “Even if it’s a drop or a spot, it progressively gets worse,” explains Nirmala Vallurupalli, M.D., a gynecologist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Plano. The blood builds up on the ovary, bladder or colon, leading to painful irritation.
While most women complain of pain with endometriosis, some don’t seem bothered by it, and their doctors discover it when treating for another condition. “Some women go in for an infertility workup, and when we check their tubes and uterus we find endometriosis,” Dr. Vallurupalli says.
Watch for these signs of endometriosis:
If your doctor suspects endometriosis, he or she will likely try two techniques to confirm it:
To treat endometriosis, your doctor will burn off the problem spots and remove the scar tissue, often in the same procedure as the diagnosis.
Then, you’ll likely take medication for six months to force a temporary menopause. The estrogen your ovaries produces helps feed the tissues that are causing the misplaced bleeding, and shutting down the ovaries for six months can help keep the problems from recurring.
To learn more about women’s health services at Baylor Plano, click here. For a referral to a gynecologist on the medical staff of Baylor Plano, click here. Or to register for For Women, For Life™ on Jan. 30 to enjoy free health lectures and screenings tailored just for women, click here.
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