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Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: What All Women Should Know

Endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome are common gynecologic disorders affecting an estimated five to 10 percent of women, especially teenagers and those of childbearing age. Even though these disorders can be painful and uncomfortable to cope with, they are often difficult to detect.

Endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome are common gynecologic disorders affecting an estimated five to 10 percent of women, especially teenagers and those of childbearing age. Even though these disorders can be painful and uncomfortable to cope with, they are often difficult to detect.

Endometriosis occurs when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body, like the ovaries, bowel, rectum, bladder and pelvic area. According to the National Institutes of Health, pain is the main symptom of endometriosis. Other symptoms include:

  • Painful periods
  • Pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
  • Cramps for a week or two before menstruation and during menstruation; cramps may be steady and range from dull to severe)
  • Pain during or following sexual intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Pelvic or low back pain that may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle.

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) suffer from numerous small and large cysts along the outer edge of each ovary. Symptoms include infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, and acne. Women who are obese are at higher risk for the disorder. The first signs of PCOS in adolescents may be infrequent or absent menstrual periods. For post-adolescent women, the first signs of the disorder can include unexplained weight gain or difficulty becoming pregnant.

To diagnose these conditions, it’s necessary for your OB/GYN or midwife to consider all of your signs and symptoms and then rule out other possible disorders. He/she will take a detailed medical history, perform a physical examination and pelvic exam, take blood, and may even perform a pelvic ultrasound. 

Treatment for both disorders depends on your age, symptoms, severity of the disease and whether or not you want to have children in the future. Treatment options may include medication to control pain, low-dose birth control pills and hormone medications. Surgery may be recommended for severe cases.

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about any symptoms you may have. For information about Crozer-Keystone’s obstetrics and gynecologic services, or to find a physician who is right for you, visit www.crozerkeystone.org or call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258).

Reviewed by Joseph Grover, M.D., chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. Dr. Grover has office locations in Drexel Hill, Springfield, Ardmore and Cherry Hill, NJ, and can be reached at (610) 626-7070 for an appointment.

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