Pain in Endometriosis

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Endometriosis can be a very painful condition. Seventy-five percent of women with endometriosis suffer from pelvic pain, particularly during their periods. A lot of women with this condition also have very painful period cramps, and experience pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia).

In endometriosis, tissue that’s similar to the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. These growths (typically called implants) mimic your uterine lining by bleeding every month, but because they’re in places where the blood can’t easily get out of the body, they cause swelling and pain.

The implants may form scar tissue between organs and cause them to stick together, which can also worsen the pelvic pain you experience. 

How to Describe the Pain

Pain can be hard to describe or explain. A pain scale can help you and your doctor properly grade the levels of pain you’re experiencing.

One of the most popular pain scales used in healthcare is the numerical scale:

  • 0: No pain
  • 1-3: Mild pain
  • 4-6: Moderate pain
  • 7-10: Severe pain, with 10 being the worst pain

You can choose any of the numbers on the scale to describe the intensity and severity of your endometriosis pain.

Vocabulary You Can Use to Describe the Pain

Using the right words to describe your endometriosis pain can help you and your doctor manage your pain better. Here are some words you can incorporate into your vocabulary when you’re describing your pain to someone else, or recording it.

  • Aching
  • Throbbing
  • Cramping
  • Intense
  • Stabbing
  • Tender
  • Gnawing
  • Dull
  • Heavy
  • Hot 
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Sharp
  • Shooting
  • Splitting
  • Cramping

Tracking Pain

Tracking your endometriosis pain is very important for quite a few reasons. It will help you pinpoint the times of the month when you experience pain. In cases where you experience pain all month round, it will help you pinpoint when the pain is most intense.

Tracking pain will help your healthcare provider determine the right kind of treatment for you, and it will also allow you and your doctor to assess the efficacy of those treatments.

Sometimes, simply knowing what to expect at different times can help you cope better with endometriosis pain.

Tips for Tracking Pain

When tracking, there are some details that can be very helpful to you and your doctor in assessing your pain. Try to answer these questions whenever you’re logging your symptoms.

  • How long you have had your pain?
  • In what areas do you feel the pain?
  • At what times during your monthly cycle do you experience pain?
  • Is the pain localized (in one spot) or is it spread out?
  • How does the pain feel? Remember to use descriptive words as accurately as possible.
  • How severe is the pain? Look at the numerical pain scale to answer this.
  • Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
  • How often does the pain occur and how long does it last?
  • Do any activities make the pain better or worse? 
  • Are there any things or foods that trigger the pain?
  • What activities does your pain stop you from doing?

How Endometriosis Pain Is Treated

There are many different treatments and management methods for endometriosis pain and the ones your doctor will recommend for you largely depends on the severity of pain you experience.

Prescriptions

Prescription medication may be used either alone or in combination with each other. There are two main types of medications used for endometriosis:

  • Pain medication like opioids and Orilissa. Orilissa is the only drug FDA approved specifically for treating endometriosis pain.
  • Hormone treatments like birth control pills, progestin/progesterone, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, and danazol.

Surgeries 

In cases of severe pain, and when other treatments have not been effective, your doctor may recommend you undergo surgery to reduce your pain. These are the surgical options available:

Coping and Management Tips

There are some ways you can alleviate your pain that doesn’t require visits to your doctor or hospital.

Over-the-counter medications: OTC painkillers like ibuprofen and aspirin may help reduce mild endometriosis pain. If you have any underlying medical condition, however, or you’re taking any other drugs, you should ask your doctor before you use them.

Diet change: Some research shows that, because of their omega-3 content, foods like sardines and salmon may help ease your pain. Further, some studies suggest that some evidence reducing your high-fat dairy, red meat, and fish, intake may help reduce the severity of your pain.

Exercise: Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle routine may be able to help reduce your endometriosis pain because exercise causes your body to release endorphins (feel-good hormones). Also, there are so many other health benefits to exercising that it can only be positive to engage in it.

Supplements and herbs: Some women find that herbs supplements like vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, and herbs like licorice root and cinnamon sticks, help alleviate their endometriosis pain.

Take a sitz bath: This involves sitting in a bath of warm water for a couple of minutes. Taking this bath regularly can help alleviate your pain.

Counseling

As with any chronic, long term condition, it can be helpful to seek professional mental counseling. A mental health professional can assist you in developing and adhering to strategies that can improve your pain. They can also be instrumental in mentally preparing you for surgery if that's the treatment recommended by your doctor.

A Word From Verywell

Endometriosis pain can be quite serious and life-disruptive. You should explore different treatment and management options for your pain. It doesn’t matter if your pain is mild—everyone deserves to live a pain-free life.

The recently approved drug Orilissa for endometriosis pain is a treatment option you should ask your doctor about, particularly if you have severe pain. Finally, try not to feel discouraged if a particular treatment doesn't work for you. Move on to the next recommended option (per your doctor’s advice). Sometimes, you may need to try different methods of managing your endometriosis pain before finding the right one for you.

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