September 10, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Rebecca L. Barnett, M.D. contributes to topics such as Women's Health, .
By Steve Bove
Endometriosis is a chronic, painful condition that affects women during their reproductive years. Its symptoms can include bleeding, inflammation and – if left untreated – decreased fertility.
So what causes endometriosis, and how is it diagnosed? Rebecca Barnett, M.D., an OB/GYN at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group, helps makes sense of a common, treatable condition that can exact a painful toll physically – and emotionally.
“Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus, which is shed every month, is abnormally implanted in the abdominal cavity. With every menstruation, these abnormal lesions bleed too, and cause inflammation and pain in the pelvis and abdomen,” says Dr. Barnett. “Endometriosis can be suspected when a patient has painful menstruation that is worsening over time.”
While each woman may experience symptoms differently, some common symptoms include:
- Pain and cramps that may be felt in the belly or lower back during your period
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful urination during your periods
- Painful bowel movements during your periods
- Other gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, constipation, and/or nausea
“The only true way to diagnose endometriosis is with surgery and biopsy of an endometriosis lesion in the abdomen,” Dr. Barnett says. “Treatment, however, can be initiated with good results without confirming the diagnosis. Most patients have improvement in symptoms by using hormonal contraception. Some patients however may require stronger therapies or treatment plans.”
“Some patients may require injectable medications or surgical evaluation and treatment. Each plan is individualized to a particular patient and their medical needs,” she adds.
There are solutions for patients, she says, adding that if you are experiencing symptoms consistent with endometriosis, it is important you speak up to your provider immediately.
“When patients come for annual exams or problem visits, they should mention any symptoms they have to their doctor, who can then do a workup and design a special plan of treatment for them,” says Dr. Barnett. “Treatment of endometriosis not only helps improve pain symptoms, but can prevent worsening of the disease over time and may help preserve fertility which can be decreased by endometriosis.”
Dr. Barnett is located at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group – OB/GYN in Freehold (3499 Route 9 North, Suite 2B).
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.