Phantom Periods and Endometriosis
Periods without actual flow, also known as phantom periods or phantom flow, have symptoms that are very similar to those of a normal periods except that there is no actual blood release. Phantom periods can occur due to a variety of reasons including stress and endometriosis.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of phantom periods include abdominal cramps, fatigue, tenderness in the breasts, mood swings, bloating, and overall discomfort.
What are the likely causes?
Women may experience phantom periods due to a variety of reasons. These include:
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- ovarian cysts
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- ovulation pain
- oral contraceptives (continuous)
- hysterectomy (uterus removal) with preservation of ovaries
How are endometriosis and phantom periods related?
Endometriosis symptoms usually occur or worsen during periods since endometriosis lesions respond to female hormones in a similar way to the normal endometrium (inside lining of the uterus). However, endometriosis symptoms can occur at any time during a woman’s cycle which means individuals can experience phantom periods without actually having any discharge.
Can phantom endometriosis cause phantom periods?
Endometriosis lesions thoroughly removed by laparoscopic deep excision surgery do not usually recur at the site of the excision. However, all surgery can result in adhesions and scar tissue, made worse by the inflammatory nature of endometriosis.
Scar tissue can evoke a similar response as endometriosis lesions including pelvic pain and cramping. This “phantom endometriosis” can also result in symptoms like those phantom periods.
How does stress cause phantom periods?
Stress is one of the major factors that can cause a phantom period. It often results in high cortisol levels, which in turn causes a spike in another protein called beta-endorphin. Increased levels of beta-endorphin are known to impair the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which leads to changes in the production of female sex hormones. This can disrupt your periods and lead to phantom periods.
What should I do if I experience phantom periods?
It is not uncommon to miss a period or two and experience phantom periods. If this continues beyond several cycles, you should consult your doctor as there are many reasons that can be treated for this.
Laparoscopic deep excision surgery is the gold standard for the complete removal of all endometriosis lesions. Our patented Aqua Blue Contrast(TM) and cold excision techniques can even remove deeper lesions and scar tissue to achieve complete symptom relief and reduce phantom period episodes.
Get a Second OpinionOur endometriosis specialists are dedicated to providing patients with expert care. Whether you have been diagnosed or are looking to find a doctor, they are ready to help.
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