Endometriosis can affect women from their first menses through menopause. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s, but can become symptomatic in the teenage years. It is a disorder that occurs when the menstrual tissue lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. It typically causes pelvic pain when it presents in teenagers, and the growths are most commonly found on the pelvic floor lining of younger patients.
Women who have a female relative with endometriosis are at increased risk for developing the disorder. Additionally, girls who start their menstrual cycles at a younger age or have longer menstrual cycles, are more prone to developing endometriosis.
In teenagers, endometriosis symptoms include:
- Painful periods;
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding;
- Pelvic pain that worsens during menstrual periods;
- Lower back pain around the menstrual cycle;
- Menstrual like cramps when not on the menstrual cycle;
- Bleeding or spotting between periods;
- Pain during or after sex; and
- Pelvic pain with urination or bowel movements.
Endometriosis is often diagnosed in teenagers if menstrual pain continues after treatment with prescription strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and hormonal birth control pills. Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery, can be performed to determine diagnosis.
Certain hormonal birth control options containing progesterone can help alleviate symptoms of endometriosis, specifically an IUD or intrauterine device.
Benefits of IUD use to treat endometriosis symptoms include:
- Reduces heavy menstrual bleeding;
- Provides contraceptive use;
- Daily administration of a pill is not required;
- Little effect on bone density; and
- Has been proven to reduce endometriosis pain after surgery.
The downside of IUD use to treat endometriosis includes:
- Pain during insertion of the IUD;
- Can have increased bleeding in the first few months after IUD insertion; and
- Risk of IUD expulsion.
If laparoscopic surgery is required to treat endometriosis, an IUD may be inserted during surgery.
Adolescent gynecologists treat a variety of medical conditions affecting newborns to patients in their early to mid-20s including endometriosis, congenital or acquired genital abnormalities, early or delayed puberty or sexual development, polycystic ovary syndrome, painful periods and heavy bleeding. Speak with your provider if you suspect you may be suffering from endometriosis. Early diagnosis can help manage symptoms.