Endometriosis is a disorder where the tissue that lines inner wall of the uterus, grows outside of uterus causing pain and other problems and can sometimes be dangerous.
The tissue that lines the uterus is called endometrium and it can grow on ovaries, fallopian tube and the tissue that lines pelvis. These clumps of tissues which grow outside the uterus are called implants. Sometimes, very rarely, endometrial tissues can spread beyond pelvic regions. It can affect females in their child bearing years.
What causes the issue?
There are few reasons why endometriosis occurs, but is not certain. Some of the explanations include -
• Retrograde menstruation: The endometrial cells enter the fallopian tube and pelvic cavity, as the menstrual blood flows back from uterus. These cells continue to develop over time and bleed simultaneously along with the cells in uterus, when its due for menstrual cycle.
• Genetic factors: Family history or hereditary can also be one of the causes for endometriosis in some cases. In rare cases, it can be a birth defect, as some of the endometrial cells may develop abnormally before birth.
• Immune system disorder: A defect in immune system can fail to recognise and destroy the endometrial cells growing outside the uterus.
• Sometimes endometrial cells may get attached to the surgical scars (for example – after caesarean section or hysterectomy).
Symptoms of endometriosis
• Pain with periods - Pain can be severe and can start before your period, and continuing throughout the period. You may have severe lower back and abdominal pain. Pain can occur during or after intercourse as well, during bowel movements or when urinating.
• Excessive bleeding - You may experience heavy unusual bleeding or bleeding in between periods sometimes.
• Infertility - Women with endometriosis may find it troublesome to conceive.
• There can be acute or chronic pelvic pain and fatigue.
How is endometriosis treated?
There is no cure for this, although there are treatments available.
• Painkillers – Over the counter medications such as NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) are prescribed by doctors to help reduce pain.
• Hormone therapy – This can reduce the endometrial tissue growth and prevent new implants. This tries to stop ovulation and pushes it forward for as long as possible to keep the implants from being aggravated. Hormonal therapy can include birth control pills (contraceptives), GnRH agonists (Gonadotropin releasing hormone), progesterone drugs. These may cause side effects.
• Surgery – Conservative surgery is done to remove implants as much as possible, preserving the ovaries and uterus. This will reduce pain and increase the chances of conceiving, although, endometriosis can come back and cause pain and problems again.
It can be difficult sometimes to manage stress and pain with endometriosis. Find a doctor whom you are comfortable with and take different opinions from trusted doctors before going forward with any kind of treatment.