Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease which affects up to 6.3 million women & girls in the U.S. 1 million in Canada & millions more worldwide. Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus-called the Endometrium implants or grows outside of the uterus. Endometrium implants have been known to grow in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, & ligaments that support the uterus; which is the area between the vagina & rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; & the lining of the pelvic cavity. Other sites for these endometrial growths may include the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix, vulva, & in abdominal surgical scars. Less commonly they are also found in the lungs, arm, thigh, and other locations like the brain.
These implants or growths follow the same pattern as the menstrual cycle. Each month building up then shedding just like that of the uterus lining when no egg is fertilized. Except these implants have no way to exit through the cervix. This causes extreme pain, inflammation as well as internal bleeding.
This process can and do cause: infertility, scar tissue formation or adhesions, bladder and bowel problems.
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
- Pain before & during periods
- Pain with sex
- Painful urination during menstruation
- Painful bowel movements during menstruation
- Other Gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, nausea & constipation
In addition, many women with Endometriosis suffer from:
- Frequent yeast infections
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
There is no way to diagnose suspected Endometriosis without having what is called a laparoscopy. This is a minor surgical procedure done under anesthesia. A laparoscopy tells a doctor of the location, size & severity of the Endometrium growths. After diagnoses it allows the patient as well as the doctor to better determine proper treatment going forward.
What treatments are there for Endometriosis?
Treatment options for Endometriosis range from little as diet and exercise, to pain management with medications, birth control as well as excision surgery like that of laparoscopy surgeries.
Each option is up to the patient & her physician to decide.
What causes Endometriosis?
We do not know the exact causes of Endometriosis, but there are several theories. Researchers do know that the hormone estrogen, which is at its highest levels during childbearing years, is likely to contribute to Endometriosis. Other possible causes of Endometriosis include:
- Retrograde menstruation – when endometrial tissue is deposited in strange locations because of menstrual flow that backs up into the fallopian tubes and abdominal cavity.
- Ceolomic metaplasia – the areas lining the pelvic organs have certain cells that can grow into other forms of tissue such as endometrial cells.
- Surgery – endometrial tissues are directly transferred outside the uterus during episiotomy or Cesarean section.
- Blood and lymph systems – endometrial cells travel via the bloodstream or lymphatic system to distant places such as the brain and other places far from the pelvis.
- Immune system problems – cause the body to not recognize and destroy cells or tissue that is growing where it should not be.
I hope this helps you to better understand Endometriosis.