I sat down with celebrity doctor – Dr. Thais Aliabadi – to talk about endometriosis and women’s health. She strongly believes that painful periods are not OK and in this blog I’ll be outlining everything she shares in the above video.
Usually we are told to take over the counter painkillers or even prescribed painkillers for painful periods yet this might just be covering up a bigger issue. If you (1) experience enough pain that you feel the need to tell your doctor, (2) stay home from work or events, or (3) have been to the ER during your period, these are huge red flags that you might have endometriosis.
The problem is the only way to test for endometriosis is to do a laparoscopic surgery – which is not realistic for every patient. So when a patient meets with Dr. Aliabadi describes super painful periods, she assumes the worst and treats by prescribing birth control. This is SO important to treat because endometriosis is the #1 cause of infertility. The major issue is that the average age of diagnosis is 32 (because it takes about 7-11.5 years for these patients to actually get diagnosed).
Instead of educating doctors, it’s easier to educate patients. If a doctor doesn’t have an answer, an educated patient will have the knowledge to keep searching until they find a doctor who does have an understanding / answer for them. While Dr. Aliabadi sits down for an hour with her endometriosis patients, not all doctors dedicate this much time, so educating patients is essential. Especially considering 10% of women in the world have this condition.
Here are some quick facts about endometriosis (watch video for full details):
- Chronic inflammation of the uterus might seem minimal at first but over time it can increase to the point where the pain is constant
- Egg reserve in endometriosis can decline if untreated
- Low dose birth control can suppress endometriosis but more advanced stages require stronger medication
- Intrauterine devices (IUD) are a great method of birth control to preserve fertility
- AMH is an important blood test to get done if you have extremely painful periods. Low AMH can indicate decreased fertility, so egg freezing might be a good option to ensure pregnancy later in life (the younger you are, the better quality eggs you put out)
- CareCredit is an interest-free way to pay for egg freezing if you can’t afford it
- Patients who use birth control to control their painful periods will prevent fertility issues
- Some symptoms or comorbidities associated with Endometriosis include:
- Painful periods
- Painful sex
- Recurrent bladder infections
- Start seeing a gynecologist at 21 or 3 years after first intercourse (whichever age is first)
- Its normal for younger patients to have painful periods (nausea, vomiting, mood swings) as part of the PMS symptoms, but this is different from endometriosis where pain is always strictly the main concern
- Its genetic: you’re 4x more likely to have endometriosis if your family member does
- What happens in your body to cause endometriosis: During the menstrual cycle you get a backwards flow of endometrial cells through the tube and into the pelvic cavity. These cells implant into the wall and cause endometriosis.
- PCOS patients have a higher risk of endometriosis but the treatment is the same: birth control
- When choosing a birth control, start with a low estrogen pill because it’s an estrogen disease and you want to suppress your levels
- Surgery is NOT enough – you have to suppress endometriosis after surgery as well or else it will come back. If you suppress it early enough you might not even need surgery to begin with
- A natural way to lower estrogen is weight loss but Dr. Aliabadi strongly believes that the main treatment is hormonal suppression – treating this naturally is NOT effective enough alone
If you take anything away from this blog it’s that education & early diagnosis are KEY. I hope you feel empowered to take action and find the best doctor for you – whether you have endometriosis or not :)