What is Endometriosis
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 a person's body does not do this, endometrial cells may attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, cervix, bladder, bowel and even your thigh, arm or lungs. Endometrial cells can also attach to any surgical scars that may exist 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)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Painful and heavy menstruation
Abdominal pain and lower back pain can happen several days before your period
Painful bowel movements
Spotting between your period
Hormonal instability causing mood swings, anxiety and depression
The Doctor will refer you to a Specialist for tests which will include:
A pelvic exam to check for cysts and to check for any surgical scars that may exist 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 the Doctor see where the endometrial cells have attached to
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin or Aleve may help with pain
Birth control pills
Hormonal therapy can stop the estrogen in the body which will slow down a person's period and also stop the endometrial cells from spreading
Surgical ablation which destroys the lining of the uterus to reduce menstrual flow
In the most severe cases, the 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.
Endometriosis usually occurs in women between the ages of 25 to 40 years old and who still have their menstrual cycle. Though it can happen after an individual has gone through menopause, 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 there are 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.