Endometriosis and Abnormal Uterine Bleeding: What’s the Link?
As many as one in 10 girls and women in the United States are affected by endometriosis.1 This debilitating and chronic condition occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, grows somewhere it shouldn’t, like the space between your bladder and uterus.1 Endometriosis is more common among women in their 30s and 40s, but can impact anyone who has a menstrual period.2
If you suffer from endometriosis, you’re probably already aware of the excruciating pelvic pain, nausea, bowel and urinary disorders and even infertility that can come along with it.1 If you’re unaware, allow us to fill you in: it’s miserable – and doctors aren’t sure what its causes are. But whether you have personal familiarity with the condition or not, what you likely don’t know is endometriosis may also be a cause of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB).
AUB is any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, frequency, timing (such as between your regular periods) or after menopause. You may have periods that last for more than seven days, are especially painful, or that are characterized by an especially heavy flow.
So Just How are your Symptoms Related?
We’ve established that endometriosis happens when tissue that normally lines your uterus, the endometrium, grows outside your uterus on other organs. In most cases, endometrial growths, or spots, may be found on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the supportive tissues that hold your uterus in place. These spots may also be found on the outside of the uterus itself.2
Because these growths are made up of endometrial cells, they bleed in the same way as the lining of your uterus each month. However, since the growths occur in areas outside your uterus, blood can become trapped and cannot easily leave your body. This trapped blood may cause irritation and pain to the tissues it’s in contact with, leading to many of the symptoms associated with AUB.2
Over time, it’s also possible for endometrial growths to keep expanding. Depending on the location of the growths, your Fallopian tubes could become blocked, or scar tissue or adhesions may form. These problems may lead to excess bleeding, discomfort and could make it harder for you to get pregnant.2
Of course, there are many, oftentimes unknown, reasons that women suffer from heavy periods, but recognizing endometriosis as a potentially related or causal issue is critical to getting proper diagnosis and treatment.
And What are your Treatment Options?
In most cases, endometriosis is treated with medications or surgery. Your treatment plan will depend on the symptoms you’re having, as well as how severe they are, and you might be prescribed or recommended pain medications to help relieve discomfort caused by endometriosis.3 Hormone treatments may also be prescribed to slow the growth of the endometrium tissue.3
If medication proves ineffective, your doctor may choose to recommend surgery to remove as many of the endometrial growths as possible. In many cases, surgery can be performed laparoscopically by making a small incision in your abdomen, through which your doctor can insert slender instruments to remove the endometrial growths.3
If you feel you may have endometriosis or suffer from heavy periods, it’s important to speak with your doctor about potential diagnosis and treatment. They can help you determine whether your bleeding problems could be related to AUB or endometriosis.
1. What is endometriosis? Causes, symptoms and treatments.” Endometriosis Foundation of America. https://www.endofound.org/endometriosis.
2. Endometriosis.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. July 10, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis.
3. Endometriosis: Treatment.” Mayo Clinic. August 20, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20236449
- Posted by Dot.
- On December 4, 2017