What You Need To Know About Endometriosis


At Migraine Again, this link touches us at a personal level. Paula K. Dumas, the co-founder and managing editor, shared a story with me one day:

“The day I woke up from hysterectomy surgery, I learned that I had massive endometriosis” Paula recalled. “It was so severe that it had backed up into my appendix, which was about to burst. So they removed that too.” She didn’t even feel the usual pain of endometriosis, perhaps because pain migraine pain screamed louder. She’d suffered with migraine for over 25 years before learning anything much about endometriosis, and the surprising link it has to Migraine.

An early diagnosis gives you a stronger chance of managing symptoms. Like migraine, endometriosis is managed through diet, exercise, and medications recommended by your doctor. Because the majority of women who are later diagnosed with endometriosis are told by a doctor that their pain has no physical basis, knowledge really is power in this case.

Endometriosis occurs when cells of the lining inside your uterus end up in the wrong place. These cell can grow on the ovaries, bladder, intestines, and elsewhere. Endometriosis can cause a great deal of pain and issues with fertility.

It’s a good idea for women, especially women of reproductive age, to keep an eye out for the symptoms of endometriosis. If any of the symptoms do arise, be sure to talk to a doctor about them. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods
  • Cramping between periods
  • Bloating
  • Irregular periods
  • Constipation
  • Pain during intercourse or a bowel movement
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Being in tune with your body and knowing about the symptoms will help ensure an early diagnosis if you are among the estimated 5-10% of women of reproductive age with endometriosis. Unfortunately for us, the prevalence of endometriosis among women who get migraines is even greater.

Several clinical trials show that women with migraines have endometriosis more often than women without migraines or headaches. One study published in 2007 by Dr. Gretchen Tietjen and colleagues looked at endometriosis and migraine prevalence in 175 women. They found that endometriosis is more prevalent in women with migraine. Furthermore, they found that “migraineurs with endometriosis have more frequent and disabling headaches, and are more likely to have other comorbid conditions affecting mood and pain, compared to migrainuers without endometriosis.”

Researchers are not 100% sure how endometriosis and migraine are linked. Dr. Tietjen hypothesizes that sensitization of the central nervous system might play in role in these and other pain conditions. She explained her research to Paula Dumas: “We looked at migraine patients, and one of the things that we found was that people who had one of more of these conditions: fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic pain, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis, were more likely to complain of allodynia with their headaches.” Allodynia is the sensation of pain at light touch that often occurs during migraine attacks. It also appears to involve central sensitization of the nervous system , which happens when the nervous system gets wound up and becomes hyper-excitable.

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