Endometriosis happens to be an incurable but manageable gynecological condition.
It does occur when endometrial implants, comprised of tissue normally found within the uterus, are present in other areas of one’s body.
As the tissue do continue to thicken, break down, respond to menstrual cycle hormones, and bleed during the menstrual cycle, endometriosis forms deep inside one’s body.
Scar tissue and adhesions form, and this can also cause organ fusion and anatomical changes.
Facts on endometriosis
- Endometriosis affects between 6 and 10 percent of women of reproductive age worldwide.
- The condition appears to be present in a developing fetus, but estrogen levels during puberty are thought to trigger the symptoms.
- Symptoms are generally present during the reproductive years.
- Most women do go undiagnosed, and in the U.S. it can take around 10 years to actually receive a diagnosis.
- Allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer are linked to women and families with endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
- Endometriosis observes the endometrial implant tissue that is normally found in the uterus build up in other parts of one’s body.
- Endometrial tissue does consist of the gland, blood cells, and connective tissue. It normally grows in one’s uterus, to prepare the lining of the womb for ovulation.
- Endometrial implants are rather buildups of endometrial tissue that grow in locations outside one’s uterus.
- When they do grow outside the uterus, this is called endometriosis.
- They can also develop anywhere in the body, but they usually occur in one’s pelvic area.
They may affect:
• the ovaries
• the fallopian tubes
• the peritoneum
• the lymph nodes
Normally, this tissue is indeed expelled during menstruation, but displaced tissue cannot do this.
This does lead to physical symptoms, such as pain. As the lesions do grow larger, they can also affect bodily functions. For example, the fallopian tubes can get be blocked.
The pain, as well as other symptoms, can indeed affect different areas of life, including the ability to work, medical care costs, and difficulty in maintaining relationships.
Other medical conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts, as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can mimic the symptoms of endometriosis.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
• Severe menstrual cramps, unrelieved with NSAIDS
• Long-term lower-back cum pelvic pain
• Periods lasting longer more than 7 days
• Heavy menstrual bleeding where the pad or tampon does require changing every 1 to 2 hours
• Bowel as well as urinary problems including pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
• Bloody stool or urine
• Nausea and vomiting
• Pain during intercourse
• Spotting or bleeding between periods
Pain is the most common indication of endometriosis, but the severity of the pain does not always correlate with the extent of the disease.
Pain often does resolve following menopause, when the body does stop producing estrogen production. However, if hormone therapy is made use of during menopause, symptoms may actually persist.
Pregnancy may provide temporary relief from symptoms.
Complications of Endometriosis
- Infertility, which can affect 50 percent of those with the condition.
- Increased risk of developing ovarian cancer or endometriosis-associated adenocarcinoma
- Ovarian cysts
- Scar tissue as well as adhesion development
- Intestinal cum bladder complications
- It is essential to see a health care provider about symptoms, in order to avoid future complications.
Treatment for Endometriosis
A hysterectomy, or the removal of the uterus, will be considered when all other avenues of treatment have actually been exhausted.
Surgery is possible, but it is normally considered only if other treatments are not all that effective.
Other options include:
Either over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or prescription drugs for the treatment of painful menses.
Treatment may be with hormonal therapies such as hormonal birth control, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists and antagonists, Medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera) or Danazol. Placement of an intrauterine device (IUD) may also be recommended.
Initial surgery will seek to remove the areas of endometriosis, but a hysterectomy with removal of both ovaries may be necessary.
- Pregnancy may be recommended via in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Managing symptoms at home
- Complementary and alternative treatments may also include acupuncture, chiropractic, and herbal medicine, but there is rather little evidence to show that these are effective.
- Avoiding caffeine may also help to reduce pain, as caffeine can worsen symptoms.
- Exercise, such as walking, can also reduce pain and slow down the progress of the condition by reducing estrogen levels.
- It is important to monitor symptoms, because of the long-term complications of endometriosis. Intolerable pain or unexpected bleeding should be reported to a doctor.
- Although there is currently no cure for endometriosis, most women are able to relieve the pain of symptoms and will still be able to have children.
Diagnosis for Endometriosis
- Diagnosis can be challenging because there is no single test for evaluation.
- The only way to truly confirm the condition is by undergoing a surgical laparoscopy.
- A surgical laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which a thin, lighted tube with a miniature camera attached, is referred to as a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision in the pelvic area.
- Other possible diagnostic strategies do include a pelvic exam, radiologic imaging with ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the use of certain medications including birth control or gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists.
- Dietary steps have been suggested for managing the pain and effects of endometriosis.
- A 2004 study suggests that brown seaweed called bladder-wrack may have an estrogen-reducing effect on women. This can also reduce the growth rate of endometriosis.
- Dairy products also reduce the risk of endometriosis, although the results were not statistically significant.
- Eating yogurt, sauerkraut, and pickles or finding a good source of probiotics can help reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and also cause increased digestive activity.
- One needs to avoid caffeine as it can help reduce pain, as caffeine can worsen symptoms.
Causes of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can indeed lead to painful cramps in one’s pelvis, but doctors do not understand its exact cause.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not currently fully understood. Possible explanations include:
Problems with the menstrual flow:
Menstrual blood does enter the fallopian tubes and the pelvis instead of leaving the body in the usual way.
Embryonic cell growth:
At times, embryonic cells that line the abdomen and pelvis do develop into endometrial tissue within those cavities.
Data does show that endometriosis can be actually present in a developing fetus, but pubertal estrogen levels are thought to trigger the symptoms.
Endometrial cells can move during a procedure such as a hysterectomy or c-section.
Endometrial cell transport:
The lymphatic system does transport endometrial cells to various parts of one’s body.
One can suffer from an inherited issue. A woman with a close family member who has endometriosis is indeed more likely to develop endometriosis herself.
Endometriosis happens to be stimulated by the hormone estrogen.
Problems with the immune system can also prevent the destruction of extrauterine endometrial tissue.
Anyone can rather develop endometriosis, but some risk factors do increase the risk.
- Age: This is most common in women aged 30 to 40 years
- Nulliparity: Never giving birth
- Genetics: One or more relatives having this condition
- Medical history: Having a pelvic infection, uterine abnormalities, or even a condition that does prevent expulsion of menstrual blood.
- Menstrual history: Menses that last more than 7 days or menstrual cycles of less than 27 days.
- Caffeine, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise: These can indeed raise levels of estrogen.
Some of the health conditions have been linked to endometriosis. These, of course, include allergies, asthma, and some chemical sensitivities, some autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, and ovarian and breast cancer.
Researchers have rather found links between endometriosis as well as exposure to certain chemicals, including phthalates.
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