Thrive by IU Health

March 18, 2022

Endometriosis: What to know and how to ‘end’ the pain

Endometriosis: What to know and how to ‘end’ the pain

It affects an estimated 176 million women across the globe. What is this 13-letter word that causes so much pain and how can women find relief. One OB/GYN offers advice.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It’s a mystery to some, and to others it’s difficult to describe. Endometriosis is a condition that impacts the lives of one in 10 women. Following are some questions and answers from IU Health certified gynecologist, Dr. Insiyyah Y. Patanwala, who works with the Coleman Center for Women.

Q: What is endometriosis?
A: A growth of uterine cells found outside the uterus, somewhere in the pelvis, bowel, bladder, diaphragm.

Q: What are the symptoms?
A: The most common symptoms are pain and can manifest in different manners – some of the pain in cyclical – before, during and after periods. A lot of times it stays that way and sometimes it becomes more severe over time. Some women may also experience pain during intercourse or during bowel movements or urination. We see some women where endometriosis can be a contributor to infertility.

Q: How is it diagnosed?
A: A laparoscopy can diagnose endometriosis, however we do not put all women through surgery. If their symptoms seem consistent with endometriosis, then the first line of management is hormone suppression, such as birth control to help manage the pain. Treatments are designed to attempt to temper estrogen production in a woman’s body. Hormonal therapy is used to suppress the menstrual period to prevent the monthly bleeding. If someone is attempting to become pregnant then we generally opt for pain medication or remove the liaisons. Some of the strongest hormone therapies can result in a temporary menopause for women.

Q: Is endometriosis hereditary?
A: There is some genetic predisposition so if you have a family member who has endometriosis then you are more likely to develop endometriosis.

Q: Can a woman grow out of endometriosis?
A: Pain improves through pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Breast-feeding can also suppress periods and keep the pain of endometriosis at bay. But once a woman stops breast-feeding the symptoms can return.

For the best diagnosis and treatment women should consult their physician. Dr. Patanwala came to IU Health in 2017. Her practice focuses on abnormal uterus bleeding, fibroids, endometrioses and chronic pelvic pain.

What she likes best about her role at IU Health: “When I see a lot of women who have abnormal bleeding or debilitating pain for many years and I can help them fix their problems so they can enjoy their lives again,” she said.

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