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 872 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10065.
You may call us at 646-960-3040 or have your case reviewed by clicking here.

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  • Angela Aro

    I have struggled with endometriosis and adenomyosis since first starting my period at 13. I was diagnosed at 21 and what followed was a series of unsuccessful surgeries and treatments. My case was very aggressive and involved my urinary tract system and my intestines. After exhausting all of my local doctors I was lucky enough to find Dr. Seckin. We…

  • Emi O

    Seckin and Dr. Goldstein changed my life!

  • Kristin Sands

    Like so many women who have tirelessly sought a correct diagnosis and proper, thorough medical treatment for endometriosis, I found myself 26 years into this unwanted journey without clear answers or help from four previous gynecological doctors and two emergency laparoscopic surgeries. I desperately wanted to avoid the ER again; a CT scan for appendicitis also revealed a likely endometrioma…

  • Wilfredo Reyes

    Dr. Seckin literally gave my wife her life back. I am eternally grateful to him for his generous, determined spirit to see that Melanie finally live free from the prison bonds of Endometriosis.

  • Carla

    I am so grateful to Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein. My experience was nothing short of amazing. I was misdiagnosed with the location of my fibroids and have had a history of endometriosis. Dr. Seckin was the one who accurately diagnosed me. Dr Seckin and Dr. Goldstein really care about their patients and it shows. They listened to my concerns,…

  • Melissa Boudreau

    When I think of Dr. Seckin these are the words that come to mind. Gratitude, grateful, life-changing, a heart of gold. I feel compelled to give you a bit of background so you can understand the significance of this surgery for me. I am passionate about Endometriosis because it has affected me most of my life and I have a…

  • Jaclyn Harte

    Dr. Seckin and Dr. Goldstein radically changed my quality of life. They treat their patients with dignity & respect that I've personally never seen in the literally 25+ doctors I've seen for endometriosis. This summer, I had a surgery with Dr. Seckin & Goldstein. It was my first with them, but my 5th endo surgery. I couldn't believe the difference,…

  • 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…