Promoting Endometriosis Awareness Month 2018 | News | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Loyola Medicine Recognizes Endometriosis Awareness Month

endometriosis pain

MAYWOOD, IL – March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. To shed light on the condition, Loyola Medicine obstetrician-gynecologist Linda Yang, MD, FACOG, shares what women should look for and how to address the painful condition with their doctor.

Affecting one in 10 women, endometriosis is a condition that most women suffer with in silence. Sometimes misdiagnosed, women can go years without treatment.

Endometriosis is a relatively common condition that can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissues that line the pelvic floor.

"Tissue normally found in the uterus gets deposited outside of the uterus," Dr. Yang said. "These outside locations are primarily near the uterus, the ovaries or the fallopian tubes. Less commonly, endometriosis can be found in the upper pelvic area or intestine."        

Diagnosis begins with a discussion with a physician, including a health history. A diagnosis can be confirmed with an ultrasound or laparoscopy – a minimally invasive surgery in which a fiber-optic instrument is used to view organs.

For most patients, the most common symptom of endometriosis is severe pelvic pain. "A lot of women think the pain is normal, or something to just deal with," Dr. Yang said. "But constant, excruciating pain should be discussed with your doctor."

Other symptoms can include:

  • Painful, heavy periods or spotting between periods
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Painful urination and bowel movements
  • Bloating, constipation, fatigue, nausea
  • Infertility

While doctors can't pinpoint the exact cause of endometriosis, several possible causes have been proposed. "It’s a very complex disorder," Dr. Yang said. "There are many complex ideas as to how it originates. In some patients, there may be a genetic component."

Research has also linked endometriosis to retrograde menstruation. In this condition, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows backward, through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity. Another possible cause is scar tissue from a surgical procedure such as a hysterectomy or C-section, which may cause endometrial cells to migrate to other parts of the body. (Endometrial cells come from the endometrium, the mucous membrane lining the uterus.)

Treatment usually includes pain management with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Hormone therapy, including hormonal contraceptives and gonadotropin-releasing hormone drugs, also can be used to relieve pain. Rarely, a hysterectomy may be offered in the most extreme cases.

Short of a hysterectomy, there's no cure for endometriosis. But the condition can be effectively managed. "Patients respond to different treatments differently," Dr. Yang said. "Work with your doctor to find what works best for your particular case."

Dr. Yang said Endometriosis Awareness Month can educate and empower women. "Many patients who come to me feel like they have limited options," Dr. Yang said. "I educate them on what is going on with their body and offer a broader range of treatment options. I want my patients to feel like they have control and know that their health is in their hands."

Dr. Yang advises women with endometriosis to self-advocate and speak up during doctor visits. "The responsibility is on both ends," Dr. Yang said. "Bring up your concerns so your gynecologist can understand and acknowledge this is affecting you on a daily basis."

Dr. Yang sees patients at the Loyola Center for Health at Elmhurst, Loyola Center for Health at Homer Glen and Loyola Outpatient Center in Maywood. She is an assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola Medicine offers comprehensive obstetric and gynecological care. Loyola's gynecologists offer compassionate routine healthcare for women of all ages, as well as subspecialty treatment of complex conditions.

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.