Endometriosis, Secondary Dysmenorrhea and FMS
Endometriosis, a condition in which the uterine lining grows in the abdominal cavity of women afflicted with it, is a cause of serious pain and discomfort when menstruation arrives. Since the tissue that is outside the uterus is uterine tissue, it responds to the hormonal changes that trigger menstruation and the pelvic cavity, as well as the uterus experiences the shedding of tissue. However, endometrial tissue adheres to other organs like the ovaries, bladder and intestines, which can mean very difficult periods fraught with intense pain. Infertility is one of the side-effects of endometriosis.
Secondary Dysmenorrhea, Connected to Endometriosis and FMS
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term for painful periods in which a woman has sharp or aching pains, lower abdominal cramps that come and go, and lower back pain. It is excessive pain that is not considered normal for menstruation. Dysmenorrhea is broken into two classifications; primary dysmenorrhea that occurs around the time a woman gets her first menstrual period and secondary dysmenorrhea, which is pain that develops as a result of another condition, such as:
· uterine or ovarian issues
· pelvic inflammatory disease
· premenstrual syndrome
· sexually transmitted diseases
· stress and anxiety
The Connection Between Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia
It has already been established medically that endometrosis is linked to autoimmune disorders. Researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHS), the George Washington University, and the Endometriosis Association found that women who have endometriosis are more likely to have disorders in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. They are more likely to have a variety of diseases involving the immune system including any of the following disorders:
· Autoimmune diseases: Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s syndrome
· Chronic fatigue syndrome: more than 100 times more likely to experience this than the general population of American women
· Fibromyalgia: more than twice as likely to experience than other women
· Endocrine diseases: hypothyroidism (which can also be an autoimmune disease)
· Atopic disease: allergies or asthma. The rate for allergies in women with endometriosis and fibromyalgia is 70% higher than the general female population at 18%
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a condition in which the primary issues are widespread pain, fatigue, and an increased sensitivity to pain. For women with FMS, the added discomfort of menstrual pain is exacerbated by the hyper-sensitivity, causing often severe symptoms of premenstrual symdrome and menstrual pain. Additionally, women with FMS who have endometriosis will likely encounter secondary dysmenorrhea which is excessive pain in the abdominal region during menstruation that results from a combination of FMS and endometriosis.
Treating Secondary Dysmenorrhea, FMS and Endometriosis
Pelvic pain can be crippling, even for women who don’t have FMS or endometriosis. When a woman with FMS has to deal with secondary dysmenorrhea on top of all of the other symptoms of FMS, it can take her to the edge of sanity. That is one reason that premenstrual syndrome in women with FMS is so serious. The question is: How can it be treated?
The treatment for primary dysmenorrhea, which is the more common ailment in women with FMS, is different for each woman. The current and most recognized relief comes from a combination of the following:
· adequate rest and sleep (a challenge for FMS sufferers)
· regular exercise
· abdominal massage
· heating pad to the area to relieve pain
· over-the-counter pain medications (NSAIDs)
However, secondary dysmenorrhea is a different situation and depends upon the cause. In the case of endometriosis, the physician should be involved in determining the best course of action in terms of treatment. As with primary dysmenorrhea, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprophen, ketoprofen or naproxen may help. Oral contraceptives are often used as a means of treating endometriosis and may be useful in reducing the pain and discomfort that is exacerbated by fibromyalgia. In some cases, surgery is the best way to address the pelvic pain associated with the triple whammy of endometriosis, fibromyalgia and secondary dysmenorrhea. However, here again it is a catch-22 for women with FMS because surgery often makes the symptoms of FMS worse.
Learn more about all of these conditions on this site and read about primary dysmenorrhea here.