Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of menstrual pain in women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Recently doctors and scientists have begun to recognize that symptoms of endometriosis can begin during adolescence and be a significant cause of menstrual pain in teens as well.
Unfortunately, endometriosis is often overlooked in teenaged girls – one study found that women with endometriosis symptoms starting before age 15 had to see a doctor an average of 4.2 times before it was correctly diagnosed. That was more than in any other age group!
This same study found that more than one-third of women with endometriosis had symptoms starting before 15 years of age.
Early diagnosis of endometriosis is important for teenagers. Only with proper diagnosis can these young women receive appropriate education on the future of their reproductive health and treatments that can minimize or eliminate their pain and preserve their future fertility.
How Do I Know if I Have Endometriosis?
- Pain before and during your period
- Pain with intercourse (in sexually active teens)
For many teen girls pain with intercourse and infertility are not issues that they experience, which makes diagnosis more difficult. Other signs of endometriosis include:
- Bleeding prior to your period (spotting)
- Back or abdominal pain during your period
- Pain with bowel movements
- Painful digestive upset
In teen girls one symptom to look for is painful periods that do not respond well to pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve or naproxen.
Most teen girls with endometriosis will experience pain away from their periods; less than 10% had period pain alone and over 90% have pain both with their period and at other times during the month.
If you suspect you may have endometriosis your doctor will recommend an ultrasound and possibly a procedure called a laparoscopy. During a laparoscopy a small incision is made in the abdomen. A surgeon will be able to insert a camera into this incision and see if endometriosis is present – some endometriosis lesions can also be removed during this procedure.
Treatment for Endometriosis in Teen Girls
The most common mainstream treatment for endometriosis in adolescence is the birth control pill, used continuously or monthly, combined with pain medications to manage pain.
Naturopathic treatments focus on treating the underlying issues associated with endometriosis, normalizing hormone balance, decreasing pain and inflammation, optimizing immune function and supporting the body through the diet. You can read more about Understanding Endometriosis, Naturopathic Medicine and Endometriosis, Acupuncture and Endometriosis and the Endometriosis Diet, all written by Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Lisa Watson.
If you are a teen who wants to treat her endometriosis, book a consultation now to get started. You can make a big impact on your future health if you act now.
Ballweg ML. Big picture of endometriosis helps provide guidance on approach to teens: comparative historical data show endo starting younger, is more severe. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol 2003;16(3 Suppl):S21–6.
Rowe T. Endometriosis: Diagnosis and Management. J Obstet Gynaecol Canada 2010;7(32)
The advice provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is meant to augment and not replace consultation with a licensed health care provider. Consultation with a Naturopathic Doctor or other primary care provider is recommended for anyone suffering from a health problem.