For Parsley patient Tara M., getting diagnosed for endometriosis was an uphill battle with her healthcare providers. She’s not the only one. This complex condition affects 6-10% of premenopausal women and 71-87% of women with chronic pelvic pain. While about 10% of women are diagnosed with endometriosis yearly, the average time to diagnosis is 7-9 years . Unfortunately, Tara M.’s experience before coming to Parsley was the norm.
Whether or not you have an endometriosis diagnosis, you deserve to be evaluated by a knowledgeable, caring provider who will help you get to the bottom of your symptoms, explore your treatment options, and start feeling better. But first, what is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue (the normal uterine lining) is present outside of the uterus. It’s most commonly found on the exterior of the uterus and nearby organs, like the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, and intestines. In rare cases, it has even been found in places like the brain and the lung!
The most obvious symptoms of endometriosis are chronic pelvic pain and painful periods, but it can also cause other symptoms, including:
The cause of endometriosis is not well understood. However, women who have a sister or mother with endometriosis have a 7 to 10-fold higher chance of developing the condition.
Environmental factors play a role as well. Hormonal imbalance and inflammation are two key drivers of endometriosis. Research shows that endometriotic lesions—the abnormal tissue present in endometriosis—show abnormally high estrogen levels , which trigger tissue growth and activity. These lesions also fail to respond to progesterone , a hormone that would normally act as the “brakes” to the estrogen “gas pedal.”
Why are hormones and inflammation “environmental?” Because certain lifestyle factors can promote hormone imbalance and inflammation, like eating a high-glycemic or pro-inflammatory diet, excessive mental or physical stress, or being exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals, especially if you're already genetically susceptible to endometriosis.
If you are experiencing painful periods, chronic pelvic pain, infertility, or any other symptoms of endometriosis, your next step is to seek out care from your gynecologist or a qualified healthcare provider for further evaluation.
Diagnosing endometriosis can be difficult. Pelvic ultrasound and MRI can sometimes rule in the diagnosis, but laparoscopic surgery is the only way to definitively know whether or not endometriosis is present in many cases.
Even so, a confirmed diagnosis isn’t a prerequisite to starting treatment for endometriosis if you suspect that you might have it.
Conventional medical treatments that are typically recommended for endometriosis include ibuprofen for menstrual pain, birth control pills to suppress your production of hormones, progestin-containing IUDs to prevent menstruation, and sometimes surgery.
Whiel these therapies can help reduce symptoms associated with endometriosis, they also have side effects and risks. What's more, they also don't address the root cause of endometriosis symptoms.
At Parsley Health, our clinicians find and treat the root cause of endometriosis symptoms. First, they recommend a comprehensive evaluation, which may include testing for hormonal imbalance, blood sugar dysregulation , nutrient deficiencies , toxic exposures, and markers of inflammation.
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.