Answers for women with endometriosis – what is it and what can you do about it?

(BPT) - Studies show that one in 10 women suffer from endometriosis. To bring attention to this common but not commonly discussed condition, one doctor and patient from El Camino Health in California are sharing their story.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue very similar to that which normally lines the inside of a woman’s uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing pelvic discomfort, ranging from mild pain with menstruation to debilitating pain every day, as well as infertility. There are a variety of treatments women can pursue, but one of the most comprehensive is laparoscopic wide-excision surgery to find and remove the abnormal tissue growth.

How is it treated?

Dr. Andrew Cook, a gynecologist who practices at El Camino Health’s hospital in Los Gatos, which is in Silicon Valley, specializes in this treatment.

“For women with severe endometriosis, many doctors use a procedure that cauterizes the tissue. However, this method rarely removes all the endometriosis. It may relieve pain for a time, but the condition often recurs. Some women undergo numerous surgeries of this kind without relief,” explains Dr. Cook.

“I use a treatment I’ve found to be more effective: laparoscopic wide-excision surgery. This minimally invasive surgery removes the entire region around and under the area affected by endometriosis,” continues Dr. Cook. “Of more than 1,600 women I’ve worked with, two-thirds report a 75 percent reduction in symptoms, and more than half report a more than 90 percent reduction in pain. For the vast majority of my patients, a single surgery has relieved their symptoms.”

Tips for living with endometriosis pain

Dr. Cook recommends patients combine the procedure with noninvasive treatments. He has written several books on the subject that provide tips and suggestions for how to minimize your pain.

Some simple steps that can help ease the pain of endometriosis include:

  • Start a stress reduction program with lots of rest, relaxation and meditation
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine that includes strength training and cardio
  • Focus on a diet that reduces inflammation and optimizes gut health
  • Take regular warm baths or place a heating pad on your lower stomach for pain relief

One patient’s journey to a life without endometriosis pain

One of Dr. Cook’s books, “The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program: Get Your Life Back” was read by Jessica Berge, a college student from Washington state who has suffered from endometriosis for years.

“My whole body was always in pain. I tried acupuncture for the pain in my lower back, hormone therapy, medical menopause, everything had side effects that were almost as bad as my pain,” Jessica says. “Dr. Cook’s book suggested diet changes, exercise and more, all of which I implemented,” Jessica continues. “I noticed a big difference just by making those lifestyle changes, so when we began to think about surgery, I figured the only way to do it was to go to California to see Dr. Cook.”

Jessica set up a virtual appointment with Dr. Cook. Via the video connection, they determined the next step would be for Jessica to come to California for surgery.

“Dr. Cook and his team were amazing. Within days, El Camino had me scheduled and ready to go,” explains Jessica.

Jessica just finished a semester studying abroad and is thrilled that she was able to experience it largely pain-free.

“I have so much praise and thankfulness for Dr. Cook. He is so professional and truly the expert in endometriosis. Everything about my surgery was seamless, largely thanks to him and the hospital staff.”

For more information on endometriosis and the treatments available to you, go online at https://www.elcaminohealth.org/services/womens-health/conditions-treatments/endometriosis.

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