March is Endometriosis Awareness Month! During we seek to provide an understanding of endometriosis in order to allow for coping and support of those who suffer from this disorder.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that offers when endometrial tissue, which is tissue similar to that which lines the uterus, grows on the outside of the uterus. It involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis and very rarely spreads beyond those organs, affecting more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. Typically, this endometrial tissue thickens and breaks down as it does during the menstrual cycle, however, because it has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Sometimes endometriosis may result in severe pain during menstrual cycles, cancer, and fertility problems.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
There are many symptoms that come along with endometriosis, though the main symptom is pelvic pain. Additionally, someone suffering from this disorder may experience:
- Pain with intercourse
- Painful periods
- Pain during bowel movements and urination
- Excessive bleeding
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
Endometriosis may be mistaken for pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, and irritable bowel syndrome. If you find that you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as endometriosis can be difficult to manage. Early diagnosis is the key to managing your symptoms.
Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis has not been determined. Still, there are a few possible explanations. Possible causes of menstruation include retrograde menstruation, embryonic cell transformation, endometrial cell transport, and immune system disorders. Likewise, surgical scar implantation and transformation of peritoneal cells are other explanations.
Endometriosis Risk Factors
There are several factors that increase your risk of endometriosis. Starting your period at an early age, going to menopause at an older age, never having given birth are a few. Simultaneously, experiencing reproductive tract abnormalities and having menstrual cycles less than 27 days and heavy periods that last for longer than 7 days are risk factors as well. Endometriosis is also heredity, so having a sister, mother, or aunt with endometriosis puts you at a higher risk.
In order to be diagnosed with endometriosis, a doctor must perform a pelvic exam or ultrasound, a laparoscopy, or an MRI. Once you are diagnosed, there are several modes of treatment including pain medication, hormone therapy, conservative surgery, fertility treatment, or hysterectomy.
To ease symptoms, warm baths, NSAIDs, and heating pads can treat discomfort!
For more resources on how to understand endometriosis, visit endometriosis.org.