Many women feel at least some pelvic pain during their period. For some, it’s especially rough. In some cases, it’s due to a condition called endometriosis.
It happens when small pieces of tissue that usually grow inside your uterus grow outside of it instead. The tissue can block your fallopian tubes. It can also grow or cover your ovaries and the tissue lining of your pelvis. It causes intense pain, and it can get worse over time.
You’ll need to see your doctor to find out if it’s endometriosis. Be ready to talk about your symptoms and to get tests to check on that.
What to Tell Your Doctor
Let your doctor know about the pain you have during your period and at other times. In women with endometriosis, it can start before their period and go on for several days after it ends. Many also have pain in their lower back and belly, as well as their pelvis.
Also tell your doctor if you have:
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain when you pee
- Pain with bowel movements
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Irregular bleeding
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Mood changes due to pain
If you have symptoms, call your gynecologist. You may get tests including:
A pelvic exam. Your doctor will feel for signs of cysts or scar tissue. But this may not be enough to tell if you have endometriosis.
Ultrasound. This uses high-frequency sound waves to make a picture of your reproductive organs. During the test, a technician might put the ultrasound scanning wand, called a transducer, into your vagina or move it across your belly. Ultrasound doesn’t always show endometriosis, but it is good at finding endometriomas, a type of ovarian cyst which is common in women with the condition.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test can make a clear picture of the inside of your body without using X-rays. It uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer. MRI tests can also help doctors prepare for surgery on women with endometriosis.
Laparoscopy. You may get a diagnostic laparoscopy. Your doctor will make a small cut near your bellybutton and put a thin tool called a laparoscope through it to check for any signs of endometriosis.
If you do find out that you have endometriosis, the sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner your doctor can help you make a plan to manage your symptoms.