June 18th, 2012 by Hasham
Abdominal pain, irregular periods, infertility
I have been visiting this page for a while and noticed that a lot of women seem to have symptoms of endometriosis and are either being misdiagnosed or are unaware of their possible disease. I have done some quick research to help others “self diagnose” some of their possible symptoms. Endometriosis is found in cells that normally grow inside the uterus but are found outside of the uterus. Endometrial implants can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus, or intestines. Less commonly they are found on the vagina, cervix and/or bladder. The cause of endo is unknown. Some believe that it is cause by a term called retrograde menstration. This means that menstral fluid gets backed up and goes through the fallopian tubes and deposits in the abdominal cavity. Symptoms include: pain, infertility, cramping during intercourse, bowel movements, and/or urination. Pelvic exams can be painful, periods may be irregular or heavy, some may experience diarrhea, constipation or lower back pain. Pain can be intermitent or constant and can vary in levels monthly. The only way to diagnose endometriosis is by having an ultrasound or by getting a more accurate result; a laparoscopy. This procedure is same day surgery where they blow up the abdominal cavity, insert a camera through the navel and remove any signs of endometrial tissue or scarring. Results may vary and more often than not, women are put on hormone therapy. Reomoval of the uterus and ovaries is common in severe cases. Some women can have excessive amounts of scarring causing little or no pain and other women can have very small amounts causing large amounts of pain. This all depends on a woman’s pain tollerance and the placement ofendometiral implants. To any of those out there who have taken the time to read this, please know I am not a doctor. I have done lots of research and want to help others identify the source of their pain or infertility. The best advice I can give any of you is to research and educate yourselves and ask lots of questions. Don’t settle for one answer and always get a second opinion. I hope this has helped some of you. Love and Respect.
Are painful periods with diarrhea symptoms of infertility?
Not necessarily. There are many ways females can be infertile, including structural issues (eg, damaged fallopian tubes, the uterus is shaped differently from normal), hormonal issues (eg, not ovulating), and others. Damage to the fallopian tubes and lack of ovulation are two of the most common causes of female-factor infertility. Neither painful periods nor diarrhea are clear signs of these problems.
In fact, under the right circumstances, painful periods and diarrhea can indicate that one is ovulating during their menstrual cycle. Bloating, cramping, and occasional diarrhea are so-called “moliminal symptoms” of the menstrual cycle. Somewhere in the range of 90% of women that experience these symptoms will have ovulatory cycles — that is, they will release an egg with most of their cycles. Regular cycles are another good indicator of ovulatory cycles.
If you are trying to get pregnant now, keep in mind that couples are only successful about 20-30% each month. That means that if 100 people are trying to get pregnant in a month, only 20-30 of them will get pregnant. In a year, about 90% of people will become pregnant with regular intercourse. If you are still unsuccessful after a year of trying, then it would be appropriate to speak to a physician.
My heavy periods were a sign I was at risk of infertility
Last year, Julia Bradbury, a presenter on BBC1′s Watchdog, underwent surgery for endometriosis. This painful condition affects up to two million women in the UK and can cause infertility. Although it is treatable, some don’t discover they have the condition until it is too late.
Here, Julia, who is single and lives in London, tells ISLA WHITCROFT how she discovered that she had the condition:
Back in October 2005, I popped into the Viveka Well Woman clinic in London for a check-up. I didn’t have any specific health concerns – my hectic life as a TV presenter doesn’t really give me any time to be ill – but at the ripe old age of 33, I felt it would be a good time to check that I was still in working order.
Like millions of women in their 30s who haven’t yet settled down and started having babies, I wanted to know I was still fertile – that my eggs were still making a monthly appearance and, should I want to, I could still conceive and carry a baby.
I wasn’t anticipating any problems, but chatting to the doctor I mentioned casually that since I’d turned 30 my periods had been getting heavier. He sent me for an ultrasound scan of my womb and within an hour I was listening with disbelief as the radiologist explained that I had clear and extensive signs of endometriosis.
The radiologist explained that endometriosis is when the tissue which normally builds up and lines the wall of the womb also finds its way into the pelvic area.
What happens is that while the womb wall is shed regularly during your period, the tissue outside the womb isn’t – and it continues to build up to a point where it starts to cause scar tissue and, of course, pain. It can prevent the bowel and bladder from working properly and may cause infertility if it damages the ovary and fallopian tubes.
Although my doctor couldn’t tell from the scan exactly how extensive the endometriosis was, he could see enough to say it was affecting the left side of my pelvic cavity and was probably also surrounding my left ovary. He estimated that on a scale of one to five, with five being the worst case scenario, mine was a grade three.
Initially I was absolutely stunned, but then, as I started to think about it, I realised that perhaps it was not such a surprising diagnosis. From the onset of puberty I’d had light and virtually painless periods, but when I hit 30 they started to become heavier, and for the first time I actually had period pain. I am fairly open about these things, so I’d happily discussed the issue with friends and family.
Most of my friends seemed to think that as you got older your periods got heavier, so I thought that what was happening to me was normal. My mum reckoned it was because I hadn’t had kids, and apparently this is one of the myths surrounding the disease.
Throughout my early 30s I just learned to live with heavier periods. Like thousands of women who put up with the condition without complaint, I simply adjusted. For the first time, I began to take the odd painkiller.
We’re a very close bunch on Watchdog and I would sometimes say to Nicky Campbell: ‘Oh, it’s that day again,’ and he would joke that he would have to leave me well alone.
I was determined that I wasn’t going to let the problem affect my lifestyle. I generally have the constitution of an ox: I work hard and play hard. I think nothing of flying around the country doing interviews or filming, followed by a great night out with the girls.
But after a year or so, despite my
best intentions, I began to feel very tired, especially during my period, and the night before my period was due I would have to have an early night.
By the middle of 2005, I was getting to the point when, during my period, I just wanted to be in bed all the time. I’d get a deep abdominal pain and my period was extremely heavy.
So now, sitting in the clinic as the doctor explained that there was actually a medical reason for this, I actually felt relief that perhaps I didn’t just have to live with them for ever.
I did have a few pangs of worry – no young woman wants to hear that she has a disorder which might affect her fertility – but the first thing the doctor told me was not to panic, which was just what I wanted to hear.
He explained that there were various options available, including hormonal treatments which would reduce ovulation and stop the endometrial tissue from building up. The downside was that these drugs would also affect my ovulation cycle and could jeopardise my chance of getting pregnant in the future.
He then explained about laser surgery, which is where the growths are removed and, hopefully, don’t grow back. As this is usually done using keyhole instruments, the recovery time is relatively short and I wouldn’t be left with a huge scar.
I opted for surgery as I didn’t want to start messing around with my cycle and fertility. The clinic referred me to Lindsay McMillan, a Harley Street surgeon who came highly recommended.
When I saw him in June, he confirmed that the endometriosis was quite extensive and that my left ovary was literally stuck to the pelvic wall by the overgrown tissue. He also thought my left urethra was affected and that there was tissue in the layers of muscle surrounding the perineum.
This tissue was called adenomyosis and bleeds each month, which may have been the cause of my heavy periods.
He explained the technicalities of the operation, and said that although he would remove the tissue, this didn’t mean the bleeding would become lighter as there might be another cause for the heavy periods.
In addition, he was careful to let me know there were risks. He couldn’t see all the endometrial tissue on the scan so it was possible there was more hidden by the bowel on the other ovary.
Removing tissue from those areas is a very delicate business, and there is always the risk that a vital organ could be perforated by the laser. He also explained that if the endometrial tissue had grown around the bowel, it would have to be removed, and there was a slim risk that the bowel might be damaged and I would need a colostomy bag.
But I was not about to be put off. I knew surgery was the right treatment for me, so on July 10 I went into Queen Charlotte’s hospital in London for my operation.
It took nearly three hours because Mr McMillan was extremely careful. I woke up that evening and I was very, very sore. I felt as if my insides were disjointed and my stomach looked swollen and lopsided.
Mr Macmillan came to see me and explained that this was absolutely normal. Lasering away bits of tissue is never going to be a pain-free process. The main thing was that all my ovaries were intact and I didn’t have a colostomy bag!
It took three days before I felt well enough to be discharged. I then went to my parents’ home in Rutland and lay in bed for two weeks. After that I was well enough to go back to work – even the tiny marks where the keyhole instruments had gone in had more or less vanished.
However, in the six months since the operation they are still not much lighter than before the operation and I am also still having some pain – though I am not as tired as I was.
But it is early days yet. I am due back next month for a follow-up appointment with Mr McMillan and we may discuss other options, such as a Mirena coil – a contraceptive device inserted into the womb – to help reduce the bleeding.
Whatever happens, I do not for one minute think the operation was in vain. I may still be having heavy periods, but I know that the endometrial tissue which was causing such havoc in my pelvic area has now gone and I am a healthier person because of it.
And I know that if I should decide to have children, my chances of conceiving are greater than they were this time last year.
Apparently it is very common for women to feel as I did – that heavy periods are simply something we have to put up with. My message is that if you have heavy periods, there may be a reason for it. Go and get it checked out.