Most women get their first period by the time they’re 15 years old. And once it begins, the menstrual cycle repeats each month until menopause. That means the average woman will experience about 500 periods in her lifetime.
Periods generally come with side effects that include bloating, cramps, irritability, and more. That’s enough for women with normal periods to dread the thought of them each month. But for women with painful periods, it can be even worse.
You shouldn’t have to live with heavy bleeding or intense period cramps every month. At OB-GYN Associates of Marietta, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating period pain that interferes with your life.
Today, we’re talking about one of the most common causes of abnormally painful periods: endometriosis. Find out more about it and how you could find relief from period pain.
The link between period pain and endometriosis
Menstrual periods cause a range of unpleasant side effects, from irritability and fatigue to cramps and bloating. But some women experience very heavy bleeding and pain that’s not normal.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for severe period pain. Since every woman’s period is different, it’s not always easy to identify symptoms that are too severe to be normal. In general, abnormal period symptoms include:
- Very painful menstrual cramps that last for days
- Nausea or vomiting
- Menstrual bleeding lasting longer than seven days
- Soaking pads or tampons hourly
- Passing blood clots larger than a quarter
Painful periods are common, but roughly two thirds of women with dysmenorrhea don’t ever seek treatment. If you regularly experience heavy bleeding and pain during your monthly periods, it’s important to visit your OB/GYN because it could be endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the uterine lining (the endometrium) grows outside your uterus. The most common locations include your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and elsewhere in the pelvic region.
The endometrium inside your uterus thickens, sheds, and exits your body during your menstrual cycle, but the endometrial tissue outside your uterus gets trapped inside your body. This causes pain, inflammation, and scar tissue.
Along with pain and heavy bleeding during your period, endometriosis can cause:
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, but the severity of your pain doesn’t necessarily indicate the severity of the condition. To find out what’s causing your pain, talk to your OB/GYN.
Your treatment options
About 1 in 10 women has endometriosis. It can cause intense pain and heavy menstrual bleeding that interferes with your quality of life, but the good news is that there are a range of treatment options to manage your symptoms.
If your painful periods are caused by endometriosis, our OB/GYN team takes your symptoms and goals into consideration when recommending a treatment that’s right for you.
Hormonal contraceptives are often the first treatment our team recommends. Contraception helps to regulate your menstrual cycle to reduce the intensity of your periods. Extended-cycle pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs) can reduce the number of periods you have.
If you’re trying to get pregnant, we may recommend minimally invasive surgery to remove patches of endometriosis. If you’re confident that you don’t want to have children in the future, hysterectomy or endometrial ablation are effective methods to treat endometriosis and stop painful menstrual cycles.
Don’t ignore signs of an abnormal period. Call our offices in Marietta or Woodstock, Georgia, today.