Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects at least 10% of American women. And a new study found the condition is even more common than researchers thought, showing around 60% of teens may have endometriosis.
When you have endometriosis, your endometrium (lining of your uterus) grows outside the uterus. This can cause unpleasant symptoms, including:
Over time, the scar tissue that endometriosis causes can lead to infertility. Mature women and teens can both get endometriosis. But young girls have unique considerations since their bodies are still growing.
Board-certified OB/GYN Kelly Morales, MD, offers help managing endometriosis to teens in San Antonio, Texas. Here’s what you need to know about teen endometriosis and how you can help your daughter manage this gynecological condition.
Many adult women don’t know they have endometriosis until they try to get pregnant and run into fertility issues. Yet these same women frequently report that their symptoms started when they were teenagers.
Since teens aren’t typically trying to get pregnant and their cycles are still new, it can be difficult for them to know if they’re struggling with something beyond normal period pains. Some risk factors increase the chances your teen may develop endometriosis, including:
If your daughter has significant period pain that prevents her from going to school or engaging in her usual activities and has any of these risk factors, she might have endometriosis.
One of the best things you can do is take your daughter’s symptoms seriously and bring her in for an evaluation with a teen gynecologist, like Dr. Morales.
There’s no simple test to diagnose the condition. The only way to learn for certain if your daughter has endometriosis is with a minimally invasive surgery called laparoscopy.
Dr. Morales sometimes recommends this surgery to diagnose endometriosis or to remove scar tissue. She rarely recommends this for teens as a preliminary approach. Dr. Morales has the expertise to get to the root cause of your daughter’s discomfort in other ways.
To help with diagnosis, encourage your daughter to keep track of her symptoms, including when the pain presents, how it responds to treatments, how long it lasts, where she experiences the pain, how severe it is, and what the pain feels like (e.g., stabbing, cramping).
The sooner your daughter starts treatment, the easier it is to manage the symptoms of endometriosis. Plus, earlier treatment goes a long way toward preserving the future fertility of your teen.
No cure exists for endometriosis. Dr. Morales works with you and your teen to create a personalized treatment plan to help manage symptoms and help your daughter maintain her health.
Dr. Morales may suggest trying prescription anti-inflammatory medications to help with the pain. She also may recommend birth control (e.g., the pill or an IUD) to prevent ovulation and slow the progress of endometriosis by stopping the formation of scar tissue.
Other treatments for teen endometriosis may include:
To learn more about how to help your teen manage endometriosis, schedule an appointment today with Dr. Morales in San Antonio, Texas.