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Living with Endometriosis

Living with Endometriosis

We are silent sufferers.  The disease we have mutes us.  We dare not complain.  We hardly know if we have a real disease.  We start believing that it might just be in our heads, or we’re just doing that ‘woman thing’.  Sympathy and understanding pours out only for the loud diseases, the ones everybody know about, the ones that get all the air time.  It’s time for awareness, and for our voices to be heard.  It’s time to turn from silent sufferers into Endo Warriors.

No, you are not crazy.  No, it’s not all in your head.  Endometriosis is real, and the suffering from it is real.  Endometriosis is a disease in which the cells that form the lining of your uterus (endometrium) are elsewhere in your body, as if they are rebelling.  Instead of being only inside your uterus, like they’re supposed to be, these rebellious endometrial cells can be found almost anywhere else in the body, including the ovaries, bladder, or bowel, or other strange places.  Even though it can seem like a strange condition, endometriosis is no stranger to the gynecologist’s clinic: it affects 6-10% of women of reproductive age, with a prevalence of 20-50% in infertile women.  So, if you have it, you’re not alone.

 

Having cells that are not where they’re supposed to be generally causes problems in the body.  In the context of endometriosis, the problems commonly center on a woman’s menstrual cycle, because the rebellious cells, like normal endometrial cells, are influenced by levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone.  That is why painful and heavy periods are common symptoms of endometriosis.  Other symptoms can come about simply because the cells are in the wrong place, causing inflammation to the area and damage to nerve cells nearby, resulting in things like abdominal or pelvic pain, painful sex (dyspareunia), pain during urination, and constipation.  These symptoms can be debilitating and isolating, especially when no one around you understands the disease.  But don’t be too hard on yourself or those around you, because not even the experts fully understand endometriosis.  No one even knows how we get it.  Sure, there are theories, the most popular one being “retrograde menstruation” (instead of flowing down and out like during a normal period, the endometrial cells somehow went backwards, and further into the body), but it’s still only just a theory.

 

You may hear or read that you can’t have babies with endometriosis.  It is true that endometriosis creates a ‘hostile environment’ in the pelvis (uterus and surrounding areas), due to the inflammatory markers involved (chemicals made in your body that do damage during the process of inflammation), which can make fertilization or conception more difficult; the term doctors use is sub-fertile, which is different from infertile.  Sub-fertile does not mean that having children is completely impossible.  Yes, some women can become infertile from the disease, and others may require reproductive technology (like in vitro fertilization), but the key is to remember that no one has a crystal ball.  No one can tell you for sure that you can’t have kids.  The only way to know is to try.

 

The definitive (certain) diagnosis of endometriosis is only through surgery, where the surgeon takes a sample of the endometrial implants (rebellious cells in the wrong place), and the pathologist looks at it under a microscope to confirm.   But there are ways to help you with your symptoms, even without waiting for surgery.  Your healthcare provider can start treating you without a definitive diagnosis if the suspicion for endometriosis is high.  You would often start with medication, anywhere from birth control pills, MIRENA (intra uterine device), a hormone shot, or antinflamatory medication such as Motrin.   For those that don’t respond to medication surgery would be the next step.

 

Information is power.  Remember, you are an Endo Warrior, and you are not alone.  The key is to be informed and seek help from your health care provider.  You can fight back against the disease by being well informed, and by having your voice heard.

 

Until next time I’m Dr. Kendra, Your OB/GYN next door. 

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Feeling Hormotional? Here’s How You…

Feeling Hormotional? Here’s How You…

Here’s How You Can Beat Your Hormotions!

It’s that time of the month again… you think to yourself. Easily aggravated. Extremely sensitive. Depressed mood. Unable to sleep, yet very tired. Sound familiar? You may be one of many who experience Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS (either personally, or as a victim of the monthly hurricane that sweeps through your household). And yes, it is a real thing.
For some of us, just knowing why we’re having mood swings and knowing that it’ll be over once the period comes and goes, helps us cope with PMS. But for others, being “Hormotional” can be overwhelming, and we may need more tools in our arsenal to cope.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

A syndrome is simply a collection of signs and symptoms that present together in specific situations or diseases. In the context of PMS, the term is describing the physical and behavioral changes during the days before a woman’s period, or menstruation (hence pre-menstrual). When this happens month a after month, and interferes with your normal life, that is PMS.

Premenstrual symptoms are common, affecting up to 75 percent of women with regular menstrual cycles (meaning up to that many women have some sort of noticeable change right before their periods). Clinically significant PMS (symptoms severe enough to warrant medical attention) occurs in 3 to 8 percent of women.

How is PMS diagnosed?

A health care provider must confirm a pattern of symptoms.

• Symptoms must be present in the 5 days before your period AND end within 4 days after your period starts

• Symptoms must occur at least three menstrual cycles in a row

• Symptoms must interfere with some of your normal activities

Keeping a record of your symptoms can help your health care provider decide if you have PMS. Each day for at least 2-3 months, write down and rate any symptoms you feel. Record the dates of your periods as well.

What are the emotions that I can experience?

Why do I feel so emotional on my period?

Although there is no hard evidence yet on menstruation-related mood swings, erratic emotions seem to be associated with the hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle. The main culprit is thought to be estrogen.

Is there anything I can do?

There are some simple lifestyle changes that you can make that have been shown to be effective in reducing PMS symptoms.

• Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise can lessen depression and fatigue. Any exercise that increases your heart rate, anything from brisk walking to swimming, can help. The key, though, is to exercise regularly, and not just on your period.

• Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can help with the symptoms of PMS, especially anxiety and anger. Breathing exercises, mediation, yoga, even a massage, have all been shown to be an effective tool to being Hormotional.

• Sleep: Getting the right amount of sleep is super important for your general health. It’s probably obvious, but it cannot be overstated. For PMS, having enough sleep can lessen moodiness and fatigue.

• Diet: Eating complex carbohydrates during PMS may reduce mood symptoms and food cravings. What the heck are complex carbohydrates? Whole grains, wheat bread, pasta, cereals, brown rice, beans, lentils are some common foods with complex carbohydrates.

What if lifestyle changes don’t work?

If the above tips don’t work, then it’s time to see your medical provider. Your doctor may decide to prescribe you antidepressants (SSRI’s), which can help with many of the symptoms, not just your mood. They can be used 2 weeks before the onset of symptoms or throughout the menstrual cycle.

Conclusion

Being hormotional sucks! There’s no doubt about it. But being armed with information and some practical tips might make it easier to bear. Also, it is usually a relief to know that you are not the only one that may experience PMS. There should be absolutely no shame or hesitation to ask your medical provider about PMS and get help. Remember, if in doubt, go get checked out.

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Panties that Keep Your Feminine Glam

Panties that Keep Your Feminine Glam

Do you want to be sexy or safe? Maybe both? Making sure that you wear the proper panties will help ensure that your feminine glam doesn’t turn into a bacteria-fest.
COTTON underwear is the key to keeping your feminine glam. Cotton fabric is lightweight AND breathable, instead of suffocating and trapping moisture in the area.

Beware of other fabrics such as nylon or lycra. These materials can hold heat which makes them binding, unsanitary and uncomfortable in the warmer months. Constant moisture is the breeding ground for bacteria.

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“What really happens when you decide to get the Depo shot”

“What really happens when you decide to get the Depo shot”

Things to know before getting this form of contraception. I was one of the physicians quoted. Read the article at List.com:

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Book launch!

Book launch!

What an exciting day it was in Washington, D.C. My first time ever participating in something like this, and I got to meet all the other doctor/authors in person that were a part of this. What strong, inspirational women they are! I want to be like them when I grow up.

Please support us and buy the book:

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Book launch after party

Book launch after party

Washington, D.C. Book launch. After party.

Work hard. Play hard.

Surrounded by friends. Surrounded by love.

Feeling good. Feeling blessed.

Song by Devvon Terrell – “To Be Great”… great lyrics that sum up my feelings.

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Sexual health article at Bustle.com

Sexual health article at Bustle.com

Information on everyday sexual health. I was one of the doctors interviewed. Read the article:

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Featured in Medscape!

Featured in Medscape!

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IUD article at Bustle

IUD article at Bustle

An informative article on IUD (intrauterine device) use as a form of contraception. I was a consultant on the article.

Read it at Bustle.com:

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Huffington Post article on birth control

Huffington Post article on birth control

Don’t let a vacation turn into a baby moon. Read the article @ Huff Post where I was a consultant.

Learn about your options!