Conditions

What is Endometriosis

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Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that should line the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus.

During a normal menstrual cycle, the lining of the endometrium should be expelled through the vagina. If your body does not do this, endometrial cells may attach to your ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, cervix, bladder, bowel and even your thigh, arm or lungs. Endometrial cells can also attach to any surgical scars you may have in that area.

What Causes Endometriosis:

There are no clear answers to what causes it, but, it is thought that it can happen after surgery for a hysterectomy or C-section, as the endometrial cells can attach themselves to the surgical scars. The cells can also attach to your reproductive organs causing inflammation in your uterus

Possible weak immune system disorder

It can happen in women who have shorter menstrual cycles or a longer menstrual flow

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Ovarian cysts

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms:

Painful and heavy menstruation

Abdominal pain and lower back pain can happen several days before your period

Painful intercourse

Painful bowel movements

Spotting between your period

Hormonal instability causing mood swings, anxiety and depression

Diagnosis:

Your Doctor will refer you to a Specialist for tests which will include:

A pelvic exam to check for cysts and to check any surgical scars you have and if there is endometrial tissue attached to them

An ultrasound may be done as well to see where cells have attached to giving a more definitive diagnosis

MRI is best able to see a more detailed picture of the size and position of the tissue

A laparoscopy, which is a surgical procedure in which a scope with a camera and a light at the end of it will help your Doctor see where the endometrial cells have attached to

Treatment:

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or Aleve may help with your pain

Birth control pills

Hormonal therapy can stop the estrogen in your body which will slow down your period and also stop the endometrial cells from spreading `

Surgical ablation which destroys the lining of the uterus to reduce your menstrual flow

In the most severe cases, your surgeon may recommend a hysterectomy to remove your ovaries, uterus and cervix. This is a drastic surgery so it will only be used as a last option.

Alternative Options:

Acupuncture

Massage therapy

Outlook:

Endometriosis usually occurs in women between the ages of 25 to 40 years old and who still have their menstrual cycle, although it can happen after you have gone through menopause but that is very rare. Endometriosis can also cause infertility so your Doctor will refer you to a fertility expert.

Having endometriosis is a difficult yet manageable disease. The key is to get help as soon as you start having symptoms. Join online forums for women with endometriosis or go to support groups which will enable you to discuss your fears and concerns with other women going through the same thing as you.