Bread Crumbs

Expand Your Knowledge on Endometriosis

4/18/2012

For most women, some abdominal pain is common during the menstruation cycle, but prolonged periods of pain can be a concern. A possible cause to consider is endometriosis, one of the most common gynecological problems women face.

Endometriosis affects nearly 5.5 million women in America reports the National Institutes of Health. It’s most common in women in their 30s and 40s, but can occur at any time in women who menstruate. TRICARE covers the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis and other problems with the female reproductive system.

Endometriosis happens when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body. Each month a woman’s ovaries produce hormones instructing cells in the lining of the uterus to swell and get thicker. The body removes the extra cells from the lining of the uterus during the menstruation cycle. When these extra cells implant and grow outside the uterus, endometriosis occurs.

The main symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain. Other common symptoms include painful cramps or periods, lower back pain, intestinal pain, pain during or after sex and infertility. It’s hard to diagnose endometriosis or the extent of the disease on the severity of pain alone.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says the only sure way to tell if endometriosis is present is by looking directly inside the body. There are three methods used to help diagnose endometriosis; physical pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound or laparoscopy. Treatment can be administered medically or surgically. Medications like oral contraceptives, which TRICARE covers, can help the menstrual period be regular, lighter and shorter or the menstrual cycle can be stopped for several months. If symptoms persist, laparoscopic surgery may be an option to remove or burn away endometriosis.

Women should talk with their primary care manager if they’re having symptoms of endometriosis or if symptoms return after treatment of the disease. If close family members have been diagnosed with endometriosis, or a woman fails to get pregnant after a year of trying, they should get screened for the disease.

With endometriosis being one of the most common gynecological problems it’s important for women to know the facts. Beneficiaries can talk to their primary care manager if they have any further questions. To learn more on TRICARE coverage visit www.tricare.mil/coveredservices.

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The TRICARE Management Activity administers the worldwide health care plan for 9.6 million eligible beneficiaries of the uniformed services, retirees and their families.

Last Updated 4/15/2014