What is endometriosis and how does it affect you?
Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines a woman’s uterus – known as the endometrium – develops elsewhere in the body, usually in the pelvic region. The ovaries, intestines, and pelvic lining are all common sites for tissue development.
Every month, this misplaced tissue thickens and then sheds through bleeding, just like it would during a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, because it has no way out, it becomes trapped inside the body and can irritate the surrounding tissue, forming scar tissue (known as adhesions).
This continuing process might result in pain, difficulties conceiving, and infertility in some situations.
While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are a number of treatments that can help ease pain and protect or restore fertility.
What causes endometriosis?
Endometriosis cause has yet to be identified.
- Menstrual blood containing endometrial cells is thought to flow backwards via the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity rather than out of the body. During each menstrual cycle, these displaced cells adhere to the pelvic walls and reproductive organ surfaces, where they proliferate, thicken and bleed. Retrograde menstruation is the term for this notion.
- Genes, the endocrine system, and the immunological system, among other things, are suggested as possible causes.
What are the risk factors for endometriosis?
Endometriosis can affect any woman who has menstrual cycles, although it is most frequent in women between the ages of 25 and 40.
The following are some possible risk factors:
- Never had a child
- Endometriosis is one or more relatives (mother, aunt, or sister)
- Having a lot of menstrual periods
- Periods lasting more than eight days
- Beginning menstruation at a young age
- Any medical problem that stops menstrual flow from flowing normally.
- You’ve had a pelvic infection before.
What signs and symptoms do you have if you have endometriosis?
Among the signs and symptoms are:
- Cramps, lower back pain, and abdominal pain, either before or during the menstrual cycle.
- Aching during or after a sexual encounter
- Pain when urinating or having bowel movements
- Abnormally heavy bleeding or bleeding in between periods
Endometriosis affects many women without causing any symptoms. It may not be diagnosed until a woman is having trouble getting pregnant in some situations.
- A complete medical history and a physical exam, including a pelvic exam, are used to make a diagnosis. The following types of diagnostic tests may be used:
- Laparoscopy — a laparoscope (a short tube with a camera on the end) is introduced through a small incision in the abdomen to view the internal organs and look for evidence of endometriosis. During the operation, a tiny tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken and inspected under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
- Ultrasound – creates images of the reproductive organs using sound waves.
What is the treatment for endometriosis?
Treatment is determined by the particular patient’s symptoms and disease severity, as well as the woman’s desire to become pregnant in the future.
The following are some treatment options:
Prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) are common pain relievers.
Hormone therapy is used to reduce discomfort, diminish or halt endometrial tissue growth, and prevent future growth. Hormone therapies aid in the regulation or prevention of the menstrual cycle, which is responsible for the monthly accumulation of endometrial tissue.
Surgery – to remove endometriosis and scar tissue from the uterus, which may increase fertility. Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive method, or standard pelvic surgery are both options.
In cases of extreme pain that does not respond to previous treatments, a hysterectomy is performed to remove the uterus and both ovaries. Because a hysterectomy prevents a woman from becoming pregnant, it is considered a last resort for women who are still in their reproductive years.