Endometriosis can be one of the most difficult things that you have to deal with. Besides the constant pain, you must deal with the random bleeding which affects your entire life. It can be very frustrating. The only thing more frustrating than dealing with the endometriosis is having to deal with finding treatment options. It is not uncommon to have to try many options before you find one that brings relief. That is why we put together this article. You should have the opportunity to see all your options presented in a way that you can compare them.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the condition where extra tissue grows in your uterus. Uterine tissue also grows outside your uterus, including your ovaries, fallopian tube, and abdomen. Even though they are growing in the wrong place, they still want to act like uterine tissue, which means they bleed on their own schedule. The pressure of them pressing in places they shouldn’t cause pain that can be almost unbearable. Your bladder, bowels, and even your digestive system could be affected by this pressure which is why you are in pain and having issues with digestion and bowel movements.
How Does it Affect your Life?
As you can imagine, living in pain can mean that you don’t want to go out. You tend to withdraw and become introverted. It can affect your relationships. It can affect your self-esteem. You may find that the bleeding has no rhyme or reason. Your body becomes your enemy. All you want is to feel good, feel like yourself again. That can very well mean that you become depressed. There are treatment options available and you don’t have to feel like you are all alone. Which is why we will now discuss the common treatment options and the places you can find support.
The Top 5 Treatment Options
You have decided you need to do something about your symptoms. Hopefully, you have researched and know that, unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. Since it can’t be cured, the next best thing to do is to treat the symptoms. This can be very frustrating. Not every option works for every person. At least, you can take this list of options and go talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out where to start to get the best relief possible.
- Pain Management
Pain is common with endometriosis. It is often so bad that it can keep you from being able to do anything other than sitting around the house. Often, one of the first things your doctor will want to do is get the pain under control. While your doctor probably has the best intentions, pain medications can cause as much or even more damage than the pain itself. The upside is you won’t feel the pain. The downside is that you can become addicted to some of these pain management options.
Addictions to pain pills can destroy lives. It can leave you unable to do everyday tasks. You can become a danger to yourself. You very well may even find yourself in the rehab center to deal with the addiction. Before you decide that pain management is a long-term situation, you need to have a real talk with your doctor. You need to decide if you can do pain management as a short-term solution until you and your doctor can come up with a long-term solution that will give you your life back, rather than take even more away from you.
- Birth control
You may not realize that your endometriosis could be a hormonal imbalance. It seems that it would be far fetched to think that your extra tissue is caused by something that you can control with birth control, but that isn’t the case. Your menstrual cycle can be regulated. That can help the pain and the bleeding. The upside is that you can have a normal cycle with less breakthrough bleeding. You may find it easier to deal with your endometriosis when you have these two things under control. This is part of the reason why, years ago, pregnancy was thought to be a cure for endometriosis. With research we have learned that pregnancy can help to regulate cycles almost like a reset button, but it doesn’t usually help you with the tissue the grows which means there may be some pain still, but it is usually more manageable.
The downside is that it may not work. There are so many different types of birth control. You may have to try many different kinds before you find one that makes it worse. If fact, you may get the wrong birth control and it may make your endometriosis worse before you find one that makes it better.
- Counseling and anti-depressants
Absolutely no one is going to tell you that your endometriosis is all in your head. If someone does say that, it is because they don’t understand the condition and need to do some research on their own. The reason that counseling and/or anti-depressants are a treatment option is because it could help you to understand how your life was affected. You can take the stand to move from a victim of life to having control of your life once again. The other important thing about getting counseling is that your therapist will want to evaluate your ability to handle other treatment options.
Your doctor may decide that before any treatment plan is discussed that you do see a therapist. You may be evaluated to see how likely you are to be able to mentally handle surgery and recovery, pain pill addicting, and your ability to ask for help. Endometriosis can require multiple surgeries and that can take its toll on anyone, both mentally and physically. Seeing a counselor will help you to get a better handle on your own mental state and will give you some coping skills to lessen your need for pain pills.
Surgery can offer pain relief and help with the bleeding. Endometriosis causes a build up of tissue. This tissue can be removed from the places that it does grow. It is not something that you can do once and be done. You will need multiple surgeries. They may need them every few months to a year apart. Your doctor will base your compatibility for surgery on whether you have a support group. The doctor will also evaluate your ability to handle pain management. You are likely to be evaluated on your mental stability. Being depressed or your likelihood of getting depressed will worsen your symptoms and even hamper your ability to heal quickly.
Another surgical option is a complete hysterectomy. This is the only sure way to completely remove all the abnormal tissue once and for all. The healing time is usually easier than multiple surgeries. The downside is that it does take away your ability to have children. If you are still wanting to add to your family, then it is not an option for you. That is something that your doctor will consider before deciding if you are a candidate for a hysterectomy.
- Aromatase inhibitors
Within the last five years, aromatase inhibitors have been adapted for endometriosis. Before this was used in breast cancer treatments to stimulate positive cell growth. It is believed that this can help restrict the growth of cells outside the uterus which may help with the pain. It can affect fertility and is often used in post-menopausal women as a treatment option. While it can help with symptoms and pain, it can also have long term effects on the bones. These have been associated with osteoporosis. It may be a better short-term solution because of the potential negative side effects.
Where to Find Support
Having endometriosis is hard, both mentally and physically. One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to find a good support group. You need to find a group of people that you can have honest conversations with. There are a couple of options. First, you can talk to your doctor’s office. They may be able to suggest a support group that you can meet with in person. The other option that you have is social media.
Social media may be a better outlet for some people. You will have a group that is almost always available to chat. You can get honest impressions of treatment plans. You can get opinions of both doctors and hospitals. It is a great way to understand medication side effects. The best part is you can be open and honest and still feel like you are in your comfort zone. No matter what your treatment options are, whether or not you find a support group, it is all up to you to decide how to how you want to handle your endometriosis. It does not have to ruin your life. It does not have to define who you are. You have the power to make the best of your life and let endometriosis can be an afterthought.