Endometriosis is a painful disorder where a similar tissue like the one that lines inside a uterus happens to grow outside. The lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium.
Endometriosis typically involves the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the tissues lining the pelvis region. It’s uncommon for this tissue to spread beyond the pelvis region, but it is not impossible. These tissues are known as endometrial tissue, and this tissue growing outside the uterus is known as the endometrial plant.
Specific changes in the hormonal activity of your menstrual cycle affect the misplaced endometrial tissue, making the area swollen, inflamed, and painful. Hence, the tissue will grow, thicken, and eventually tear/break apart. Finally, it will have nowhere to go and become trapped in the pelvis region.
The tissue trapped in the pelvis region can cause the following conditions to happen:
- When endometriosis involves the ovaries, it can cause cysts known as Endometriomas
- Formation of scar tissues
- Adhesions – bands of fibrous tissues that cause to bind the organs and tissues together
- Fertility issues
- Unbearable menstrual pain during the cycle
Therefore, this article will examine the symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, and possibly effective treatment plans.
So let’s get started!
Symptoms of Endometriosis
There are different symptoms of endometriosis. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience regular to severe symptoms. In some cases, there is a possibility that some might not even go through any symptoms.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain and is often associated with the menstrual cycle. Although most women experience cramps, those with endometriosis- their description of period pain is way worse than usual. In addition, this degree of pain may increase over time.
It is also important to note that the degree of your pain isn’t supposed to match the severity of your condition. For example, one could have a mild form of the inflicted disease but could be going through painful symptoms.
Aside from the general pelvic pain, you may go through the following symptoms too:
- Painful periods accompanied by severe back pain
- Bad cramps around 1 or 2 weeks of the cycle and abdominal pain
- Feeling uncomfortable and pain during sexual intercourse
- Discomfort with bowel movements and urination
- Infertility issues
Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is uncertain. Doctors haven’t cracked or discovered any reliable reasons why it occurs. However, theories over the years have been presented to know why it happens, but none of them is scientifically proven.
In retrograde menstruation, it is said that menstrual blood that has the endometrial cells flows back by the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis region instead of going out of the body. These cells stick to pelvic walls, where they grow, thicken and bleed throughout each cycle.
After an inevitable surgery, for example, C-section or Hysterectomy, it’s possible for the period of blood to leak in the pelvic cavity because of the endometrial cells that may attach themselves to the surgery scar/incision.
Transportation of the Endometrial Cells
Another theory is that the endometrial cells are transported out of the uterus through the lymphatic system. However, another theory claims that a problem with the immune system may make the body unable to recognise the tissue growing.
Apart from the theories claimed and stated, some people say that the development of endometriosis could also be linked to environmental factors and genetics.
Risk Factors and Complications of Endometriosis
Several risk factors put one at more risk than others of developing endometriosis. Some of these include the following:
- Never given birth
- Disorders of the reproductive tract
- One or more relatives have endometriosis
- Any medical condition that prevents the passage of blood during periods
- Heavy bleeding of the menstrual cycle lasts more than seven days
As for the complications, the conditions below could pose a life-long problem for some people.
Unfortunately, having issues with one’s fertility is one of the significant complications of endometriosis. Only those with milder cases can conceive and carry a successful term, while others have difficulty getting pregnant.
However, a few success stories show women could conceive after the complete removal of the scar tissue. If you cannot create even after having the tissue removed, you could go for options such as IVF to improve the chances of having a baby.
It would be best to talk to a doctor or a healthcare professional to have better guidance on the whole case.
It is claimed that ovarian cancer occurs at a higher rate in endometriosis. However, the overall risk of ovarian cancer is low, to begin with. Endometriosis-associated adenocarcinoma; is a rare type of cancer that can deepen its root in those who happen to have endometriosis.
Treatment of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can interfere with your daily activities if left untreated. However, some medical and surgical options are available to manage the symptoms. Since everyone has different symptoms, your doctor will prescribe the best options according to your condition.
- Medications: You might be advised to help overcome the pain if your symptoms aren’t that severe.
- Hormonal Therapy: Taking some supplementary hormones can relieve the pain and halt the spread of endometriosis.
- Hysterectomy: This is a last-resort surgery- that will be recommended if the other treatment options go in vain. During this surgery, the surgeon removes the uterus and cervix. However, there are two types of surgery depending on the condition.
Although hysterectomy is an option, it is not regarded as a cure. It is not taken as a treatment as after the surgery, one would be unable to get pregnant. If you’re thinking of starting a family, it would be best to discuss other options before agreeing to the surgery.
Endometriosis is when the tissue resembling the one in the uterus starts developing in other areas, especially the pelvis area. It is a chronic disease that is yet to discover its causes. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to have a cure.
However, if you happen to feel that you are going through the symptoms mentioned above in the article, it would be best to seek medical help or talk to a healthcare professional.
Through the help of effective treatment plans, one’s symptoms and pain are manageable. Consult a doctor or a healthcare professional and seek better guidance for your case, as they would be able to come up with a specific plan according to the symptoms and the degree of pain you’re going through.