Endometriosis: Even Stars Need Help to Manage Pain and Fertility

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As more celebrities share personal stories about their struggles with endometriosis, the condition is becoming less mysterious. Singer Halsey, 23, is the most recent personality to disclose how she is managing the disorder. 

Yet many women still struggle for months — and sometimes years — with chronic pain that gets worse during their menstrual cycle, infertility issues and pelvic pain during sex.

“Many women with these symptoms see multiple doctors and have multiple people telling them it is normal and it is all in their head,” says Larry Holland, DO, FACOOG, Premier Women’s Center.

For some, big problems do exist beyond the painful periods. If you are experiencing signs of endometriosis, a visit to a gynecologist may help.

“When we hear those symptoms, the first thing on our list is endometriosis,” says Dr. Holland. Treatments are available to reduce symptoms, improve fertility and ease your pain. 

Endometriosis is when tissue (endometrium) that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows in other parts of the body, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissues of the pelvis. In rare cases, endometriosis can occur outside of the pelvic region. Pain and other symptoms occur because the displaced tissue acts as it normally would inside the uterus, thickening, breaking down and bleeding each month.

The best way to make a diagnosis is through surgical inspection, says Dr. Holland. Your doctor will look for endometrial tissue outside of the uterus and take a biopsy.

If you have endometriosis, your doctor will discuss treatment options based on your age and family planning goals. Management of your condition also depends on if you have scarring, cysts or adhesions. Endometriosis is a chronic condition that needs to be treated until you complete menopause, says Dr. Holland.

Treatment options include medicines for pain, oral contraceptives, ovarian suppression medications and surgery. Appropriate treatment can be life changing for patients, says Dr. Holland, especially since many women with endometriosis are of reproductive age.

It is possible to get pregnant with endometriosis, and pregnancy actually helps suppress symptoms, says Dr. Holland. Women who take medicines to suppress their menstrual cycles can stop using them when they want to have children, then use them again later.

If you’re struggling with endometriosis, don’t give up hope. Dr. Holland encourages women to find a doctor who listens to them and to have realistic expectations. With treatment, “Women get their life back,” he says.

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