Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that makes up the uterus lining grows outside the uterus. The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium and this condition mostly comprises the ovaries, fallopian tube and the tissue lining the pelvis.
In endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue works as normal tissue which thickens, breaks down and bleeds with the regular menstrual cycle. When endometriosis includes the ovaries, it is termed as endometriomas. Also Read: Irregular Periods? Don’t Ignore it, Try These Remedies
The adjacent tissues may be irritated, in the long run, develop as scar tissue that leads to the sticking of pelvic tissues to other organs. This condition results in intense pain, particularly during the menstrual cycle and is also associated with fertility problems. It is one of the most common gynaecological condition affecting more than 10% of women in their reproductive age.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not clear, however, certain possible causes include:
Retrograde menstruation refers to where the menstrual blood containing the endometrial cells flowing back into the fallopian tubes and pelvic cavity, instead of expelling out of the body.
Genetics -If endometriosis runs in the family, it may be inherited into the genes.
Problems with the immune system where it fails to destroy endometrial tissues growing outside the uterus.
Hormonal changes where estrogen stimulates endometriosis in people where there is an issue with the body’s hormone functions.
Endometriosis can affect women in their reproductive age, and it is most common among women in their 30s and 40s. Certain factors which can increase the risk of endometriosis include women who had never given birth when the menstrual cycle prolongs for more than 7 days and shorter cycle.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis are intense pelvic pain during the menstrual cycle which worsen over time. Other signs and symptoms include:
- Dysmenorrhea- Severe pelvic, lower back and abdominal pain which begin before and prolong for several days during the periods.
- Pain during or after intercourse is common
- Pain during bowel movements or urination
- Heavy bleeding or bleeding between periods
- Infertility, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those opting for infertility treatment. Also Read: 5 Effective Tips For Successful Infertility Treatment
Diagnosis And Treatment
The doctors generally evaluate the patients based on the symptoms and identify the exact location of pain and when it develops. Some of the tests recommended by the gynaecologists include:
Pelvic examination where the doctor manually palpitates the pelvic region to find out if there is any abnormal cysts or scar growth behind the uterus.
Ultrasound of the abdomen which captures the images of the reproductive organs to rule out any cyst in the endometrial lining.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an examination to study the detailed images of the organs and tissues, exact location and size of endometrial implants.
Laparoscopy -the gynaecologist performs a procedure that permits them to view inside the abdomen via the laparoscope, by making a tiny incision and observing for any signs of endometrial tissues outside the uterus.
Treatment for endometriosis majorly involves medications like over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drugs to ease painful abdominal cramps. Hormone therapy is effective in reducing the endometrial tissue growth, lessens pain and even avert formation of new endometrial implants.
Conservative surgery is suggested for women who are planning to conceive, the procedure is done to remove the endometriosis tissue growth and safeguards the ovaries and uterus which improves the chances of fertility. After the surgery, the patient is put on hormone therapy to alleviate the pain.