What I Wish My OB/GYN Would Have Told Me About Endometriosis
When I was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2013, I wasn’t told much beyond what the doctor saw during the laparoscopy procedure, and that she essentially "cleaned it all up". I was told to continue with my annual appointments and basic efforts toward a healthy lifestyle.
The autoimmune connection
Nobody mentioned endometriosis’s connection to autoimmune disease. While endometriosis is not broadly recognized as an autoimmune disease, it certainly has a strong connection to them.
Autoimmune disease is a condition the body attacks itself. More accurately, the body’s immune system gets confused in distinguishing between what is a foreign invader that it needs to fight off versus what is the body itself, and therefore, designed to protect. Because of the confusion, the immune system strikes friendly-fire on the body.1
Depending upon the area in which the immune system attacks, the diagnosis of the autoimmune is determined. For example:
- Multiple sclerosis attacks the central nervous system.
- Crohn’s, colitis, and celiac attack the digestive tract.
- Hashimoto attacks the thyroid.
So why is this important to know in the context of endometriosis? Because women with endometriosis may have an increased risk to developing an autoimmune disease.1 The studies are somewhat limited, but science aside, it became my reality.
Hindsight is 20/20
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016, just three years after my endometriosis diagnosis. Can I say that there’s a definite link? No, of course not. But I also developed interstitial cystitis, another autoimmune-related condition.
Learning about the connection after-the-fact was disheartening, but how would that information have been helpful? I am very proactive with my health, so if I knew I was at an increased risk for autoimmune disease, I would have become more well-versed in prevention and begun to implement a plan. Even more so, it could have made the diagnosis of MS a lot simpler.
Getting an accurate diagnosis of MS is something that can take people years – literally. It can be such a hard disease to diagnose, so knowing that I had an increased risk could have given me a greater awareness on symptoms to look out for. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and the reality is, I can’t even say that any preventive efforts I could have done would have changed the course of my health. However, I believe in the importance of being an informed and educated patient.
So, now what?
If this is news to you, what shall you do with the information? Maybe nothing. There’s no need to worry yourself over something that isn’t a reality. However, if this inspires you to take a more proactive approach with taking the very best care of yourself through both diet and lifestyle – go for it! You will never regret choosing healthy foods and taking good care of your body.
And if a symptom crops up that seems concerning or out of the ordinary for you, maybe this information motivates you to talk to a doctor sooner. Again, both of these options have only positive outcomes.
Have you ever experienced one or more of these side effects from your hormone therapy?