For decades, Kimberly Wendland endured extreme pain during her menstrual cycle. Kim’s pain started as an adolescent and her symptoms progressively became worse with pain and sickness lasting for several days at a time. For the past seven years, she suffered from severe cramping and nausea during her periods. And on top of everything, five years ago she was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The 35-year-old took medications to treat the IBS and tried different birth control pills to help reduce the painful period symptoms, but none of the options helped her. The pain became severe enough to affect Kim’s work and social life. She would often have to call off work and skip activities she enjoyed because it was just too painful to get out of bed.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease in which cells similar to those lining the uterus (endometrium) are found outside the uterus. Symptoms may include: pelvic pain, painful periods, painful intercourse, heavy or irregular periods, infertility, gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, painful bowel movements), urinary symptoms (e.g., painful urination, urinary frequency and burning) and fatigue.
Then, last November, Kim scheduled her annual exam with Farah Alvi, M.D., of WomanCare, a Board-Certified Gynecologist and Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgeon. During the visit, Dr. Alvi spoke with Kim about her symptoms. She then performed a pelvic exam and discovered that Kim had a pelvic mass. Dr. Alvi also performed an ultrasound that showed a large fluid-filled cyst. Dr. Alvi made her diagnosis: Kim had endometriosis.
“Kimberly's condition became evident to me after taking a thorough history and performing an exam,” says Dr. Alvi. “Imaging was then used to determine the extent of her disease.”
“Dr. Alvi informed me of my endometriosis treatment options and allowed me to make the decision for robotic surgery,” Kim says.
The procedure was a success and “ultimately, surgery confirmed Kim’s diagnosis,” Dr. Alvi says.
Kim was back to full activity in six weeks and, since the surgery, she has experienced no symptoms during her period.
“I feel excellent,” Kim says.
After her six-week, post-operative visit, Kim was advised to return in six months for additional follow-up. Dr. Alvi will continue to monitor her symptoms to ensure any associated conditions are treated in a timely manner.
Don’t put up with the pain of endometriosis
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness of a disease that affects the quality of life of one in 10 women. Like many women suffering from endometriosis, Kim was led to believe her symptoms were "normal.”
“When I first met Kimberly, it was clear she had been dealing with pain for years,” Dr. Alvi says. “Women with endometriosis need a voice, and medical professionals need to listen to them closely.”
Dr. Alvi emphasizes, “Endometriosis is a complex condition and women should consult with a specialist to consider their best treatment options.”
Find out more about the NCH Robotics Institute. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Alvi, call 847-221-4400.