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What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease affecting around 20% of women of reproductive age in Singapore. Endometriosis is characterized by the unusual growth of the endometrium––the tissue lining the uterus––growing outside the uterus, usually around the pelvis or abdominal cavity.
During a usual menstrual cycle, the endometrium builds up and is eventually expelled if you are not pregnant. Patients with endometriosis will experience this tissue buildup outside the uterus. However when the endometrium grows outside the uterus it has no way to leave the body, leading to inflammation, swelling, and scarring of the tissue in these areas.
Symptoms of endometriosis
Not everyone with endometriosis will experience the same symptoms, and some women will not have any symptoms at all. However, here are some common symptoms to look out for:
- Painful menstrual cramps, especially if they are felt in the lower back and abdomen
- Pain during sex
- Very heavy or abnormal menstrual flow
- Painful bowel movements or urination during your period
You’re not alone
How hormonal birth control can alleviate symptoms
There is no known cure for endometriosis, but using hormonal birth control can help alleviate many of the symptoms so that they interfere less with your daily life.
The endometrium grows and sheds according to fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone. Hormonal birth control methods (such as the pill, patch, and hormonal IUD) that contain progesterone can slow the growth of the endometrium, reducing the pain and inflammation associated with this tissue growth.
Hormonal birth control can also help in making your periods more predictable and manageable. Besides slowing the growth of the endometrium, progestin also tends to make the lining of the uterus thinner, resulting in a much lighter menstrual flow. Birth control pills also reduce the amount of prostaglandin––a chemical associated with more painful menstrual cramps––produced in the uterus.
Are some forms of birth control more effective at managing symptoms?
Some studies have shown that progestin-only birth control pills are more effective at alleviating endometriosis symptoms than combined pills, especially for first-time users. This is because progestin specifically inhibits the growth of the endometrium, which can help alleviate much of the discomfort caused by endometriosis.
However, due to the variety of hormonal birth control options available, it is best to consult your healthcare professional to find the best match for you.
There are a range of ways to manage endometriosis symptoms, including hormonal birth control. Thinking of starting birth control for the first time? Check out this article on options you have for birth control and what you can expect.
If you have any questions, you can always book a teleconsultation with one of our licensed physicians to find out which type of birth control pill might be best for you.
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, hormonal birth control can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with the condition such as painful cramps and heavy periods. Read on to find out more about the benefits of birth control for patients with endometriosis.