What is Endometriosis?
Pelvic pain certainly is one symptom of endometriosis, but by itself does not necessarily raise concern for endometriosis. Pelvic pain that occurs monthly and associated with your menstrual cycle, however, could be a better indicator.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally would grow inside the uterus grows outside the uterus. Since this tissue has the same origins as the tissue in your uterus it operates the same way. This tissue thickens, grows, and breaks down with hormonal changes during menstrual cycle. This tissue sheds and becomes trapped since it can not exit the uterus. Then with every menstrual cycle the tissue becomes inflamed because of hormone fluctuations. This tissue can grow on your ovaries, bowels, and other structures in your pelvis.
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The tissue that is trapped in your pelvic cavity can cause irritation, scars, adhesions, and pelvic pain with your menstrual cycle. Other symptoms of endometriosis include heavy bleeding, cramping, pain with intercourse, infertility, and difficulty with bowel and bladder habits.
Endometriosis has 4 different stages. The stages are assigned based on the location, amount, depth, and size of the endometrial tissue.
Treatment options vary with endometriosis depending on severity, tolerance to conservative treatment, and patient preferences. The direction of treatment depends on many factors such as level of pain, desire for pregnancy, tolerance to conservative management, and extent of the disease.
Treatment options include conservative treatment such as pain medication, hormone therapy, and physical therapy. Surgery is also an option. Surgical procedures options include laparoscopy, laparotomy, or a hysterectomy.
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help manage symptoms of pelvic pain, bowel symptoms, and bladder symptoms. Physical therapists can utilize manual therapy techniques to address mobilization of organs and tissue where adhesions restrict function or cause pain.
Physical therapists can also treat postural changes that develop in individuals living with chronic pain. They can address tightness in muscles and release overactive/tense muscles in the pelvic floor, low back, hip, and pelvis. Patients can also be instructed in bladder and bowel habit retraining to help improve quality of life.
During pelvic floor physical therapy, individuals living with endometriosis can also be instructed in relaxation training/downtraining techniques to improve relaxation of mind as well as pelvic floor muscles and abdominal muscles.
If an individual with endometriosis is also dealing with painful intercourse, they can receive education on alternate sex positions to alleviate pain, managing flare-ups, and pelvic pain management.
If endometriosis has impacted your life and interferes with your sex life, bowel function, or bladder function, a pelvic floor physical therapist should be a part of your medical team. Katy and Miranda at The Fit Pelvis can help you navigate this journey and address your pelvic floor symptoms.