Tag Archives: cervical cancer

Ask Endochick: Unexplained Bleeding

Melissa writes: I had my uterus removed 4 years ago do to endo. Now I will be having my ovaries removed do to endo cysts. I am having issues of bleeding ( fresh and old blood) along with milky discharge. I also feel sick when this happens along with sharp pains. I am also losing more hair than normal for me and running low grade temps off and on. Please tell me is this all do to the endo or could there be something else going on?

Melissa, thanks for your question. To begin with, as I’m not your doctor, I cannot diagnose you. Nor can I treat you. I can offer you some information that you — and other women in this situation — can use.

Seeing as you’ve had your uterus removed via a hysterectomy, any vaginal bleeding should raise a red flag. This could be from endometrial — i.e. chocolate cysts — rupturing and releasing their contents. Or from a more insidious nature such as ovarian or cancer.

The milky discharge you mention could be from a candida — or yeast — infection. Of course, there is always a chance that a milky discharge coupled with blood signals cervical cancer . But it’s important not to jump to conclusions.  

If a symptom is occurring enough to alarm you, I urge you to ask your physician about it.

You mention you’re having the ovaries removed because of cysts. Are you current on pap smears? Make sure you’re current on STD testing and cancer screenings, as well. Cover all your bases.

You mention you’re having problems with hair falling out. This could be due to a hormonal or nutritional disorder. It could not hurt to ask your physician to run thyroid panels (looking for hypo and hyper active thyroid disorders) and a panel to test your sex hormones (estrogen, testosterone, etc.) When your thyroid and/or hormones are out of balance, your whole system will be off kilter.

Whether all of this is related to your endo, who knows! Sorry 😦 As I said, I’m not your doctor. I don’t have access to your test results. But I can say that a lot of women  with endometriosis — myself included —have an umbrella of chronic illnesses with our endometriosis diagnosis. So it could very well be endo related and all clear up with the removal of your ovaries. Or not.

If it were me, though, I would have my doctor run hormonal panelsthyroid function tests,   check for a yeast infection and screen for cervical cancer

You may this is overkill, but the last thing you want to do is be nonchalant with you health. Consider it this way….

  • Do the hormone panels now and you’ll have a base line for when you’re in surgical menopause.
  • If you’re losing hair, checking thyroid levels is an inexpensive and easy test. If your numbers are within norms, then perhaps it’s just time to reach for the hair replacement shampoo. But at least you know. If not, you’re avoiding complications like thyroid storm and heart trouble.
  • Yeast infections are no fun… enough said. If you have one, get it treated.
  • Screening for cervical cancer is so important! I cannot stress this enough! My own aunt is undergoing chemotherapy for cervical cancer right NOW! She skipped her regular paps for YEARS! Her cancer is Stage III, was inoperable and thankfully the tumor is shrunk enough to operate. If you have ANY unexplained vaginal bleeding or discharge — especially since you have no uterus — take precautions and get a pap smear. After all, it’s your life!

Melissa, I hope I’ve helped. Remember, I’m not a doctor. I’m just a fellow endo patient helping another. Good luck.

Dancing With the Stars – Endometriosis

While I don’t watch this show, I have heard about the controversy surrounding two of the stars’ recent admittance of having Endometriosis. The first being Julianne Houghs. She is quoted as saying, “They want to clean out the cysts and take out my appendix, too, because later on it can be affected by the cysts.”  I’m assuming – in this case – if these were endometriomas then there would be no need for a diagnostic lap because the doctor would know what she had. I’m sure, with the money that doctor is probably charging in Hollywood, a CA125 was done to rule out cancer for those thick walled cysts since she hadn’t already had confirmed endometriosis. Thus, leaving only a diagnosis of endometrios and no need for a diagnostic lap. Still though, from a public relations perspective – it would’ve been wise for her to stay mum until after the surgery and then come out with her diagnosis since both the EA and ERC say a laparoscopy is the only definite way to confirm endometriosis.

Now, Lacey Schwimmer is another issue. She is quoted as saying, “I went to go get checked out today and I actually have the beginning onset of what Julianne has, which is endometriosis, and it hurts very bad,” admits the dancer. “Right now I’m insanely weak, and the room is spinning.” If her doctor suspected she had endo, he should have put her in for a lap to diagnose it and clean it out, and help her pain and weakness (which I assume is from blood loss). The earlier endometriosis is diagnosed the better the outcome for the patient! Just tossing an endometriosis diagnosis onto every painful or heavy period can be dangerous, and I’ll get into that after I offer two quotes below:

Endometriosis Association:  “Diagnosis is considered uncertain until proven by laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure done under anesthesia. A laparoscopy usually shows the location, size, and extent of the growths. This helps the doctor and patient make better treatment choices”.

Endometriosis Research Center:  “Endometriosis can ONLY be diagnosed via surgery; diagnostic tests like MRIs and ultrasounds are not definitive”.

Now, with that being said: While endometriosis can ONLY be diagnosed definitively by a laparoscopy, doctors will often go on patient history coupled with family history, and symptoms and give a “possible diagnosis of endometriosis” or “suspected endometriosis.” Why is this important? Because there are a few medicines that insurance companies will not pay for until a laparoscopy has been done to confirm endometriosis. Until then, a doctor cannot use medicine like Danazol or Lupron to treat “suspected endometriosis.” I had “suspected endometrios” for over 10 years. My doctors were sure that’s what I had based on my symptoms, what medicines worked and didn’t work, and the fact that my mother had it and my aunt. BUT even they told me it couldn’t be confirmed until I had the lap.

NOW – why does the EA and ERC, and the American Medical Association call for laparoscopy to confirm the presence of endometriosis in order to make the diagnosis? That is because there are a host of pelvic and abdominal maladies that can mimic the disease, and often endometriosis sufferers suffer from at least one of them as well (i.e. IBS).

These are:

Infection – this is especially true if your symptoms come on suddenly and out of the blue.

Diverticulitis

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

PID

Vaginitis and BV

STD’S

Functional Ovarian Cysts

Ectopic pregnancy

Do you see the need for the laparoscopy protocol???

Let me provide a real life example of the importance for DIAGNOSIS:

My sister, she was 22 when this occurred, began bleeding profusely. Soaking pad after pad, months rolled into one after the other until she went three months without a single break in her period. That’s three months without a day where she didn’t bleed. I never had excessive bleeding with my endometriosis – mine is all pain. My mother, though, bled constantly. My mother told my sister that that was how her endometriosis started. Since my sister couldn’t get into the doctor right away, she felt she could wait another two months through this hell of constant bleeding until her annual exam. At her annual she described what was going on, her family history, etc. Her doctor said that it could be endo since my sister did have a history of some nasty periods and had a failed marriage because they tried for 2 years to have a baby and couldn’t get pregnant. My sister asked to be treated, doctor said all I can give you is a depo shot to stop the bleeding because it’s not confirmed. They agreed to see if that would stop the bleeding first because my sister didn’t have the time at work to take for surgery. Meanwhile, her pap results came back – she didn’t have endometriosis…. her bleeding was from cervical cancer.

I am not discrediting the fact that the  women have endometriosis. I am sure they do and feel horribly for them. No one should have to get this disease. It’s a terrible, chronic malady that needs a cure. It afflicts too many women! We should stop bickering and band together to fight this! That was the point of Jeanne’s petition. Endometriosis is getting attention right now because of the DWTS’s celebrity, but the wrong message is getting out there. Her petition is simply calling for more media coverage of the FACTS. And we need that. How is this disease DIAGNOSED and TREATED? Let’s get that covered on Oprah. A whole show devoted to it. Could you imagine the women we could reach in that ONE HOUR? Women who are sitting on their couches, laying on their beds, in pain, curled into balls, slaves to their heating pads, drugged on pain killers? We could reach them with a message of hope, a message of “there may actually be something wrong with you other than just a painful period.” We could give them reassurance that it’s not all in their heads. There is nothing wrong with living with a “suspected endometriosis” diagnosis, especially if you’ve ruled out the biggies that could kill you. But the lap can confirm, open up pathways to better treatment, and can give you that “I told you so” leverage we endo sufferers need when we are laying curled up on the couch knee deep in tissues.

Please, let us stop this bickering and sign Jeanne’s petition. You can find it here:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/endometriosis-awareness-understanding/signatures-page1.html

There is nothing wrong with more awareness and education when it comes to this disease – or any disease.

Let me finish by saying I do not discredit that either DWTS woman has endometriosis. I am not their doctor, nor do I have access to their personal medical records. I am just going off of how they are presenting their endometriosis to the public. As celebrities they have a responsibility to their fans to be responsible with their words. Before saying they have a disease or illness, they should make sure they have been accurately diagnosed with that disease. There are some diseases and illnesses that if a celebrity came out and said they had without a diagnosis, there would be a backlash – i.e. cancer. Could you imagine if Christina Applegate had come out and said “Well, I felt a lump and knew it was cancer so I announced it as such before I had a mammogram.” No, she had a mammogram and a biopsy before she announced to the public that she had breast cancer.

People who suffer from diseases, especially chronic diseases, do not take it lightly when some one comes along and willy nilly says they too suffer from it without proper diagnosis.  A doctor should always be cautious and add “suspected” or “likely” before a disease or illness until it is confirmed.