Endometriosis a condition that only affects women and can change their lives forever. Why am I discussing this you ask? Well, along with other conditions I have talked about this month, March is Endometriosis awareness month. A lot of people have heard of the condition but don’t really know what it’s all about. Or how if affects a women’s life. So today I dove into some research about Endometriosis (Endo) so I could share with you.
What is Endometriosis? According to the Endometriosis Association, Endometriosis is a painful, chronic condition that affects at least 6.3 million women and girls in the U.S., 1 million in Canada, and millions more around the world. It occurs when the tissue that which lines the uterus (tissue called the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. It can be found in the abdomen on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and ligaments that support the uterus; the area between the vagina and rectum; the outer surface of the uterus; and the lining of the pelvic cavity. Endometrial growths may include the bladder, bowel, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars.
The Endometriosis Association says that “the misplaced tissue develops into growths or lesions which respond to the menstrual cycle in the same way that the tissue of the uterine lining does: each month the tissue builds up, breaks down, and sheds. Menstrual blood flows from the uterus and out of the body through the vagina, but the blood and tissue shed from endometrial growths has no way of leaving the body. This results in internal bleeding, breakdown of the blood and tissue from the lesions, and inflammation — and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.”
What causes Endometriosis?
According to Endometriosis.org “There is no known cause of endometriosis but it is highly likely that certain genes predispose women to develop the disease . Thus, women have a higher risk of developing endometriosis if their mother and/or sister(s) are also affected . It is possible that age when the menstrual period starts, other gynaecologic factors, and environmental exposures influence whether a woman is affected. Whereas evidence has been weak with regards to exposure to dioxin (an environmental pollutant)  some evidence now supports exacerbation of its symptoms due to PCBs.”
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
-Pain before or during periods
-Pain with sex
-Painful urination during periodsds
-And possibly diarrhea, constipation, nausea.
Who is affected by Endometriosis?
It is estimated that’s endometriosis affects nearly 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49). However, endo could start as early as a girl’s first period, any may not resolved by menopause, especially if the woman has scar tissue or adhesions from the disease and/or surgery.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Endo is tricky, because it will not show up on any CT Scan, X-Ray, MRI or Ultrasound. Other than being diagnosed by the symptoms, which is hard to do because the symptoms on Endo could also be the symptoms of many other things. The only really way to diagnose Endo is surgery. This is done laparoscopically. They go in and take a look around and if Endometriosis is found they can take care of those spots while they are in there.
How is Endometriosis treated and is there a cure?
At this time there is no known cure for Endo. However, endometriosis can be treated effectively with drugs. That being said most treatments are not suitable for long-term use due to side-effects. Surgery can be an effective treatment, as they remove endometriosis lesions and scar tissue, but success rates depend on the how extensive the disease is and the surgeon’s skills. Some say pregnancy is a cure because pregnancy may relieve symptoms, but in the long term this is not a cure for the disease. Hysterectomy, with removal of all the disease at the same time, may relieve symptoms, but had not proven to be a cure either. Removal of the ovaries when they do the hysterectomy increases the chances of pain relief but also causes the patient to go into immediate menopause.
It has been thought at times that Endo is an autoimmune disorder, however this has not be proven at this time.