5 Red Flags of Endometriosis that Every Doctor and Patient Should Know

5 Red Flags of Endometriosis that Every Doctor and Patient Should Know

I recently went to Washington D.C. to work with RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, to participate in their annual Advocacy Day. I got to meet and speak with women from all over the country that are currently struggling with infertility or have struggled with infertility in the past and are now done with their family building journey. What astounded me most was that many of these women had been enduring years of unsuccessful fertility treatments with some of the top specialists in the country and yet the answer their doctors gave them for this misfortune was just “bad luck” or “unexplained egg quality” or “low ovarian reserve”. After speaking with these women for a few minutes, I was shocked to deduce that so many of them most likely had undiagnosed endometriosis. As our conversations unfolded, their eyes grew wide with recognition of all of their lifelong symptoms laid out in front of them. They had no idea these diverse symptoms could all be connected and related to one disease.

After working with Dr. Seckin for the past year and listening to many of his patient’s stories, I have learned that there are “endometriosis red flags” to look for in patients. When I heard patients talk about their multiple failed IVF attempts and how they have suffered early miscarriages, I asked them the following questions and the majority of women said yes to all or most of these symptoms:

  1. Do you have painful periods and/or painful intercourse? Although many gynecologists/RE’s do ask this question, I think some women do not say yes outright. They may say, “Well my periods are uncomfortable or very heavy, BUT I still can function with over the counter pain medication.” A lot of women do not realize the pain they are in until after they have excision surgery to relieve the pain. Many think their pain is normal. Also, some women with endometriosis do not have painful periods and do not have the obvious symptoms that most doctors can recognize. Painful intercourse is a big red flag for the presence of disease. A lot of doctors fail to ask patients this question and many patients feel that it is irrelevant and do not mention it.
  2. Do you have stomach issues (diarrhea or constipation) especially around your cycle? Many women have had gastroenterologists tell them that they have irritable bowel syndrome or just a “bad stomach”. Many gynecologists/RE’s don’t even ask about patients bowel issues because they are solely focused on gynecological issues and/or fertility. Interestingly enough, many of the women I speak to naturally cut out gluten and or dairy from their diet without even knowing that is a good diet for endometriosis patients. They will tell me “I used to have worse bowel symptoms, but since I cut out these foods I feel a little better.”
  3. Do you have a history of UTI’s or frequent urination especially around your menstrual cycle?  In all honestly, most women are not that attuned to their urinary symptoms, especially if they are having cramps that overshadow them or are in the middle of fertility treatments. I have women tell me, “I pee all the time, but I also drink a lot of water,” or “I used to get frequent UTI’s when I was younger, but have learned to manage them.” When they actually track their symptoms, they do recognize that they have frequent urination during certain times of the month or remember they had unexplained blood in their urine during their last physical. Many urologists do not think of endometriosis when speaking with a patient. So these symptoms just become another weird quirk about their body they learn to live with.
  4. Do you have any back or leg pain, especially during specific times in your cycle? When I mention these symptoms, patients are always blown away.  They look at me like I must have psychic abilities or have a camera peeking into their lives. They are shocked that these often debilitating leg and back pains could possibly be related to the same disease that could be causing their infertility. I hear about how they have been to neurologists and orthopedic surgeons, none of whom could cure their pain or really even find a cause for it. 
  5. Finally, do you have a family history of endometriosis or have family members that have had unexplained bad periods, early hysterectomies, infertility or pregnancy losses? It is shocking the amount of patients that have family members come to mind when they take the time to think about their family history. The fact that endometriosis can be passed down from one generation to the next is a big problem. When your mom, and your mom’s mom and your aunts all had painful periods, it seems normal. Doctors often don’t think about endometriosis as being genetically linked the same way they do with breast or ovarian cancer. If a patient is having unsuccessful fertility treatments and has a family history of endometriosis, there is a good chance that maybe the patient has endometriosis that is impacting fertility.  

It is so disheartening to hear women speak about the years they have suffered and the treatments they have endured with no success and seemingly no reason for feeling the way they do. Dr. Seckin believes an early diagnosis and intervention with a skilled excision surgeon can not only make a huge impact in a patient’s fertility, but in their overall quality of life. I am not a doctor and do not have a medical background, but I have learned so much from working closely with Dr. Seckin, speaking with patients, attending the Endometriosis Foundation of America’s Medical Conferences and by being a part of the greater community. If I can learn how to suspect endometriosis in five minutes and encourage patients to go for further evaluation with an excision specialist, the greater medical community can certainly learn how to identify these symptoms as well. We need doctors in all disciplines to “think endometriosis” and help patients get diagnosed sooner.

Casey Berna is a patient of Dr. Seckin’s and an endometriosis and infertility counselor and advocate. To learn more about her story and her practice go to www.CaseyBerna.com.  If you are a patient of Dr. Seckin’s and want to share your story please contact Casey at casey@drseckin.com.

Our office is located on 5th Ave and 68th NY, NY.
You may call us at 212-988-1444 or have your case reviewed by clicking here.

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Patient Reviews

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  • Megan Rafael Moreno

    I was in pain for 2 years. I was getting no answers, and because dr Goldstein and dr seckins were willing to see and treat me I'm finally feeling almost back to normal. They were very down to earth and helpful in my time of need. Dr Goldstein was easy to talk to and caring, she took care of me…

  • Nancy Costa

    Dr. Seckin is one of the best endometriosis surgeon. Every time I go to the office, he really listens to me and is always concerned about my issues. Dr Seckin's office staff are a delight and they always work with me. I feel I can leave everything to them and they will take care of it. Thank you to the…

  • Rebecca Black

    Fast forward 5 years to find out incidentally I had a failing kidney. My left kidney was only functioning at 18%. During this time, I was preparing all my documents to send to Dr. Seckin to review. However, with this new information I put everything on hold and went to a urologist. After a few months, no one could figure…

  • Monique Roberts

    I'll never stop praising Dr. Seckin and his team. He literally gave me back my life.

  • Erin Brehm

    I had a wonderful experience working with Dr. Seckin and his team before, during and after my surgery. I came to Dr. Seckin having already had laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis 5 years prior, with a different surgeon. My symptoms and pain had returned, making my life truly challenging and my menstrual cycle unbearable. Dr. Seckin was quick to validate my…

  • Anita Schillhorn

    I came to Dr. Seckin after years of dealing with endometriosis and doctors who didn't fully understand the disease. He quickly ascertained what needed to be done, laid out the options along with his recommendation and gave me the time to make the right decision for me. My surgery went without a hitch and I'm healing very well. He and…

  • Nicholette Sadé

    Dr. Seckin brought me back to life! I am now 3 weeks into my recovery after my laparoscopy surgery, and I feel like a new and improved woman! Being diagnosed with Endometriosis, then 25yrs old in 2015, and discovering the severity of my case being stage 4, made me devastated. Dr. Seckin's vast knowledge of the disease, sincere empathy, and…

  • Jason Curry

    My wife had her laparoscopic excision surgery to remove endometriosis with Dr. Seckin on Jan 30, 2014. She doesn't write online reviews so I'm writing this on her behalf. I accompanied her with each office visit she had. The staff--Lucy and Kim, are very friendly, warm and professional. Dr. Seckin was excellent in every capacity. He spent a lot of…

  • Liz Filippelli

    He is an awesome doctor who saved my daughters life from debilitating endometriosis..she knew instantly upon awaking from surgery that she was better..that wad May and no complaints only praises for Dr. Wonderful Seckin!!

  • Karen N

    I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at 19. I saw several Endometriosis "Specialists" since then, had a few laproscopic surgeries to "remove" the endometriosis and continued to be in pain. I had a hysterectomy in 2012 and was told this would stop the pain once and for all. No such luck! Tired of spending days in bed with a heating pad,…

  • Lauren Rodriguez

    I researched and found Dr. Seckin after dealing with years of doctors who couldn't help me or refused to go the extra mile for their patients. I have to say I am truly blessed to have found such a compassionate and talented doctor. He is exquisite with everything he does, and both his team at the office and surgical team…

  • Kellya Vespa

    Dr. Seckin is a very skilled surgeon. There are not many doctors like him that truly understand the effects of endometriosis. I am lucky to have found him. The staff is wonderful too.

  • Meg Connolly

    Dr. Seckin truly LOVES what he does and cares about his patients from the bottom of his heart. My life has already changed in 3 weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful. Should I ever need another operation for endometriosis, Dr. Seckin will be the one to do it. I recommend him to anyone I come across with similar problems…

  • Elisandra O

    Dr. Seckin is an amazing Doctor he is very compassionate, caring and he will be honest with you. He's been my doctor for 19yrs and I am so grateful to have someone taking care of me that knows what he is doing and knows the best way to treat each and every situation. I would definitely recommend him and his…