5 Myths about Endometriosis Symptoms
There are so many myths & “quick fix” fads being propagated on social media about endometriosis that we felt it imperative to set the record straight. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial-like tissue grows outside of the uterus, and it affects up to 10% of American women, usually between the ages of 15-44.
Often misdiagnosed as other conditions as varied as irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis (endo) is not necessarily only found in the pelvic cavity, but it can be found, although in rarer occurrences, in almost every organ and anatomical structure in the body.
Some women have debilitating endometriosis symptoms like excruciating periods, painful intercourse, nausea, fatigue, and yes – infertility. Although research is ongoing on endo’s exact impact on infertility, it is estimated that up to 50% of symptomatic women that are diagnosed with endo may also be infertile. And about 25% of women, never have any symptoms and are not diagnosed with endometriosis until they are struggling with their fertility.
Although there is still much to learn about endometriosis, there is much we do know. So, let’s amplify the facts and denounce the fiction – Here are the top 5 myths about endometriosis;
Myth #1: Severe Period Pain Is Normal
Nope, severe pain is not normal. Neither are extremely heavy periods. It’s not part “of being a woman”, nor because you have a “low pain threshold” nor are you “over-reacting” – if your pain interferes with your daily life, you need to be assessed by your doctor to investigate the cause.
Myth #2: Endometriosis is Preventable
We don’t know what causes endometriosis, so we don’t unfortunately know how to prevent it from developing. What we do know is that myths like having an abortion or douching do not cause endometriosis. While anyone born with a uterus can be afflicted with endo, there are some groups that are shown to be higher risk candidates for endometriosis. Some of those indicators are:
- Family history
- Starting your period early (before the age of 11)
- Short menstrual cycles (less than every 27 days)
- Long cycles (longer than 7 days)
- Women aged 30+ having a baby for the first time
- Low BMI
- Medical conditions like cervical stenosis, cervical scarring, hymen anomalies, uterine anatomic anomalies, etc.
- Heavy bleeding
Myth # 3: Endometriosis is Rare in Young People
This is a myth perpetuated by the lack of scientific community to accurately diagnosis endometriosis until the 1970’s when the laparoscopy technique was invented. Prior to that endo was only able to be diagnosed through major surgery. Many teenagers are symptomatic after their first period, but don’t seek medical diagnosis until they are older.
“The Global Study of Women’s Health, conducted in 16 centers in ten countries, showed that two thirds of women sought help for their symptoms before the age of 30, many experiencing symptoms from the start of their first period“
Myth #4: There is a Cure for Endometriosis
Sadly no, there is no cure for endometriosis at the present time.
We do have treatment options like laparoscopy or if you are trying to get pregnant – assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF & IUI can help you get pregnant while treating your endometriosis at the same time.
To be clear though, pregnancy, hormones – like being on the pill, going through menopause, removal of your ovaries or having a hysterectomy may lessen symptoms of the disease in some women, they are not a cure. Neither are fad diets, herb regimens, and other “quick fix” schemes sold to you by “pseudo experts” on social media. There is no cure for endo.
Myth #5: Endometriosis Equals Infertility
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine found that 24% to 50% of women with infertility have endometriosis. That is a scary statistic. However, many women with endo have no issues and experience a healthy pregnancy. If you have an endometriosis diagnosis, consult with your doctors about testing your fertility. And if you’ve been trying to conceive naturally with no luck, talk to your OBYGN for a referral to an infertility specialist – for you have options.
For more information about endometriosis, we have a great FAQ section written by our very own Dr. Sarah Moustafa, a reproductive specialist and author of many studies on endometriosis. Dr. Moustafa and long-time endometriosis fertility patient Cindy Lucus discuss endometriosis in more detail, in this fabulously informative IG Live on our @ivf_irms Instagram account.
Our team is here to help. You can reach out via our website, give us a ring at 973.548.9900 or DM us on our social handles and book a consult. We are experts on endometriosis, its impacts on your fertility and how to create treatment plans customized for you.