Endometriosis is a severe medical condition that can impact fertility and sexual health of women, and it occurs when the endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. One of the biggest symptoms of endometriosis is very painful menstrual cycles, although that often gets misdiagnosed as an ovarian cyst. A lot of women suffer from endometriosis without knowing it or are misdiagnosed for years, and a lot of it comes from not knowing the real truth about the disease. It is important to know what the most common myths and misconceptions are about endometriosis so that proper treatment can begin, which can help improve your overall quality of life. Here are four of the far too common myths about endometriosis, and why I believe these myths occur.
Heavy Menstruation Is a Warning Sign
A lot of women think that if they have a heavy menstrual cycle that lasts a long time they have endometriosis, but this is not the case at all. Some women naturally have heavier menstruation, which typically gets lighter as they get older, and it does not mean you do or don’t have endometriosis. Women that suffer with endometriosis might have light cycles that only last a couple days or heavy cycles that last a week, and neither one can be seen as a warning sign of the disease. I think a lot of women think that your menstruation will be heavier if you have endometriosis because the tissue is going outside of the uterus. It is important to rid ourselves of this common myth because women that have heavy cycles might be worried and working themselves up for no reason, and women that have light cycles might not seek medical attention because they don’t think they are at risk.
Teens Don’t Get Endometriosis
One of the most dangerous myths concerning endometriosis is that people feel teenagers and young women can’t get this disease, and that is absolutely not true. Any woman that has started menstruation can develop endometriosis, although it’s typically not diagnosed until a woman decides to conceive a child. I grew up hearing that teenage women might have painful periods because it’s just part of your reproductive system settling down and regulating, but painful periods are not normal for women of any age. I think a lot of women might be scared to seek medical attention during their teen years because they are scared it could be a sexually transmitted disease, and don’t realize they are just as at risk for endometriosis as their mother is. I never heard of endometriosis during middle or high school health class, and I think it could help clear up the misconception about who is impacted if it was taught in school.
Endometriosis Is Not Hereditary
Most people think that endometriosis is just something some women get for no reason, but in reality, it is actually a hereditary disease. A lot of women don’t think to ask their mother or sister about whether or not they were diagnosed with endometriosis, but it is important that this conversation starts happening. If a woman has a mother or sister who was diagnosed with endometriosis, then her risk of developing the disease rises significantly, and she should start paying attention to her body. It is true that women can develop endometriosis even if there is no hereditary history, but it’s more common among women with a family history of the disease. I think that adult women need to discuss endometriosis with their daughter if they have hit puberty, and also tell them whether or not there is any family history of the disease so that they can be aware of their risk of getting the disease.
Menstrual Pain is Always a Sign
A lot of women have menstrual pain, back pain, and pelvic pain that suffer from endometriosis, but these warning signs could also signal another issue. There are a number of other medical conditions that might be causing the symptoms, such as an ovarian cysts, cancer, and even pelvic inflammatory disease. While it is true that severe menstrual pain is an indicator of endometriosis, it could also just be a simple infection that antibiotics can clear up. Any woman suffering from these symptoms should seek medical attention from a gynecologist right away however, due to the serious nature of the symptoms. I know that when my friend was experiencing painful menstruation, she went to the doctor thinking she had endometriosis, but it was just an infection that eventually cleared up. Some pain is normal during your monthly cycle, so you just need to be aware of what is normal for you. If that pain level gets worse over time or begins impacting your daily life, you should definitely go to the doctor to figure out what the cause is, and to rule out any serious medical situation such as cancer.