What Is Endometriosis?

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Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium (the tissue that usually lines the uterus on the inside), grows on the outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or intestines. The same tissue may be found anywhere in the body. This usually causes severe pelvic pain during menstruation.

What Is The Main Cause Of Endometriosis?

Although many studies have been conducted, no specific cause for endometriosis has been found. One of the theories is that cells from the uterus may travel via the blood vessels or the lymphatic system to other sites in the body and endometriosis may occur at this site. Another theory is called coelomic metaplasia, which is a process where one type of tissue transforms into another type of tissue. Coelomic epithelium could differentiate into endometrial-like tissue, which can then implant and grow outside the uterus, causing endometriosis. Genetics and family history may also play a role.

What Are the Symptoms Of Endometriosis?

The number one symptom that patients develop is pain in the pelvis or abdomen.

Other symptoms experienced are:

  • Dysmenorrhea: pain experienced during menstruation or period
  • Dyspareunia: pain during sexual intercourse
  • Dyschezia: pain during defecation (bowel movement)
  • Infertility
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Bloated stomach
  • Constipation: difficulty relieving yourself and having a bowel movement
  • Painful urination

Symptoms may be constant and persistent or they may vary during the menstrual cycle, becoming worse before and during the menstruation period.

Can A Woman With Endometriosis Get Pregnant?

The short answer - yes, a woman can still get pregnant even if they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. However, the function of the ovaries, the uterus, the fallopian tubes and the egg cell may be impaired or affected due to the inflammation caused by endometriosis. Scar tissue will also form with this condition and may cause blockages or deformities in the reproductive organs. There are various medications and treatments that a doctor may prescribe to assist a woman to get pregnant even with this condition.

How Do You Detect Endometriosis?

The symptoms mentioned above will be the main signifier of endometriosis. In order to make a formal diagnosis, the doctor will also perform a pelvic examination and an ultrasound will be performed to see if there are any ovarian cysts due to the endometriosis. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be performed to diagnose endometriosis.

How Is Endometriosis Treated?

There is sadly no cure for endometriosis. A doctor will most likely treat the symptoms with medication or opt for surgery to remove some of the tissue and relieve the pressure and inflammation that is causing the pain. Treatment may also be given to increase fertility. The doctor may prescribe hormone treatments to reduce oestrogen production, combination contraceptives, and progestogens. Surgery is also an option to remove the uterus completely (hysterectomy - partial or complete removal) or a laparotomy (small holes made in the abdomen to remove endometrial tissue).

Who Is At Risk For Endometriosis?

Some women are at higher risk than others to develop endometriosis. Some indicative factors include a family history of the condition, menstruation that started before the age of 11, short monthly menstruation cycles (less than 27 days), heavy periods during menstruation (>7 days) and infertility.

How To Avoid Endometriosis?

There is no sure way to avoid or prevent endometriosis. A positive way to deal with endometriosis or reduce your risk of developing endometriosis is to live a healthy lifestyle, stay active, breastfeed, eat more citrus fruits and pregnancy. 

Understanding Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition characterised by the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, leading to pelvic pain and other debilitating symptoms. The exact cause of endometriosis remains unknown, but theories suggest the involvement of tissue migration and genetic factors. Diagnosis is based on symptoms, pelvic examination, and imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI. While there is no cure for endometriosis, treatment aims to manage symptoms and may involve medications or surgical interventions.

Despite the condition, women with endometriosis can still conceive, although fertility may be affected. Factors that increase the risk of endometriosis include a family history of the condition, early onset of menstruation, short menstrual cycles, heavy periods, and infertility. While prevention is not guaranteed, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, engaging in regular physical activity, breastfeeding, consuming citrus fruits, and pregnancy may potentially help manage or reduce the risk of endometriosis. Consulting with a healthcare professional is essential for accurate diagnosis, personalised treatment, and guidance on fertility options.

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