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I often think to myself if the symptoms I am experiencing are all in my head, over exaggerating, and just plain crazy. There are many women that feel the same. We sustain from going to the doctor for fear that doctors will label us as a hypochondriac and tell us to take Tylenol to help the pain.
Is this you? Because this is me but it is my life and I know I have to be my own advocate.
I belong to a couple of different endometriosis groups and the one question that appears over and over is how to diagnosis endometriosis. Now, remember I am no doctor but I have researched this topic and will provide you with that research. As always, seek professional help from a doctor that is very knowledgeable about endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
The following definition from a patient perspective. Endometriosis is when the endometrium sheds and attaches to other areas inside your body (more about that ina minute)!
The endometrium is the innermost lining of the uterus that sheds every month to produce a period (very well health, 2020). What causes endometriosis is when the endometrial lining spreads outside the uterus.
Where does the lining go? It can go to many places such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, rectum, and even appear on areas like the appendix. Endometriosis can be labeled in different stages. In my case, I was stage II because I had it deep in the rectum area.
Many people who think they have endometriosis also believe they have IBS. This is because endometriosis can attach to your rectum and cause painful bowel movements. I would also experience severe pain when I ate certain foods. This could just be my body reacting to food but I believe endo had something to do with it.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain during sex
- Very heavy and painful periods
- Back pain
- Pelvic pain
There could be other symptoms but these are the main ones.
I have always had severe and painful period cramps. The ones that make you curl up in a ball and your asking God why in the world would he make women go through this! Well, I can tell you that women are strong and I could not imagine my husband going through this every month!
I also suffered from heavy bleeding every month! This is one of the worst parts because it is hard to leave the house because I never know when I will have an accident. This has happened to me many times and embarrassing. I remember one time I was in Subway in the middle of ordering and just felt the warm feeling of blood running out of my body. It is hard to run to your car in these situations but I know I am not the only one.
Finally, I always had really had pelvic and back pain. There were times it was so bad that I could not stand for very long. I swear my lady parts would go numb and tingle and my back would ache so bad.
If you read my blog, you also know that I suffer from infertility and a symptom of endo. However, I hear many stories weekly in my support groups of women with endometriosis conceiving so know that it is possible.
I knew there was a high chance I had endometriosis because my mom and other women in my family have had it. If you are not sure of your family history, please sit down with the women in your life and see if they have been diagnosed or know if other relatives have suffered.
My mom found out she had this when she had a hysterectomy. Right now the only known way to diagnose endometriosis is by having exploratory laparoscopic surgery. If you have symptoms and need a definite diagnosis, know that surgery is the only known way. There are advancements being made where doctors are researching menstrual blood to see if it can be detected this way. However, this may take years to nail down the research.
If you are curious about laparoscopic surgery, read my other linked articles.
There are four different stages for endometriosis:
Stage I minimal
Stage II mild
Stage III moderate
Stage IV severe
The stage you are diagnosed with depends on many factors including but not limited to, location and depth. I can tell you I was stage II with some adhesions on my ovary, fallopian tubes, and more severe near my rectum.
Another person I know was categorized as Stage IV because she had it all over her female organs and also had chocolate cysts.
Finding a Specialist
When looking for a specialist, ensure you find a functional doctor and not a conventional doctor.
Conventional doctors are taught to look at the symptoms and then prescribe medication accordingly. Medicine is given to cover up the problem and not to take the underlying root cause away.
These doctors look at the whole picture. My functional doctor wanted to know what was happening to my body. She gave me the above blood tests and tested way more. The first time I had my blood drawn they took 25 vials of blood! The lab had to draw blood from both arms because it was too much. However, it was very insightful and I learned more about my body than I had known previously.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to find the right doctor. I write a lot about finding the right care because this is a matter of your health and pocketbook.
Here are my tips for finding the right specialist:
- Join Facebook Endometriosis groups and ask for recommendations near your location
- Ask friends if they have any recommendations. Many times we do not open up about health issues with our friends or family. This is sad because I believe sharing knowledge is how we can help each other.
- Research blogs and see if they offer recommendations.
- Find doctors and research them to see if they are published and have trained with the best.
- Interview doctors. Nobody says you need to select one doctor and stick with them. Make as many appointments as you need and come prepared with questions. I always say follow your gut and you will know when you have found the right doctor.
I have a thyroid auto-immune disease so I had already found a fantastic functional doctor. She is the reason I found the fertility and endometriosis specialist who has been helping me. If you currently have a fantastic doctor, ask them if they have any recommendations.
Here are some resources that I have found to provide great information on endometriosis. The more information you know, the more powerful you can be and improve your health!
In addition, I think everyone should read this book. I also follow this doctor on Facebook and listen to live conversations he has about endometriosis and other interesting topics. You will also find out why I posted a link to progesterone.
If you have any additional resources about endometriosis, please share it in the comments.
Tracee Cornforth – https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-the-endometrium-2721857