Research into endometriosis is advancing and we regularly learn new things about the disease. However, a cure for endometriosis is yet to be identified and this is simply because we have yet to discover the actual cause of it.
Many theories explore what causes endometriosis. These include estrogen production, retrograde menstruation, genetic predisposition, lymphatic or circulatory spread, immune dysfunction, metaplasia, and even environmental causes. But none fully explain why the condition occurs. It is possible that a combination of these factors could cause endometriosis to develop.
There are also several myths floating around regarding the causes of the disease. These include abortion, wearing tampons, sexually transmitted diseases, psychological trauma in early life, douching, diet, lack of exercise, contraceptives, the color of your skin, and sexual promiscuity. However, there is no evidence any of these factors cause endometriosis. One thing we do know is that there is no way of preventing the disease.
Let’s explore some of the treatment options that are commonly referred to as “cures” for endometriosis.
During pregnancy, hormones help to regulate the many changes that take place in the body to enable a baby to be born safely. In early pregnancy, a woman’s hormones (which include estrogen and progesterone) elevate to help the ovaries release an egg and implant it into the lining of the uterus. Once an egg embeds in the uterine lining, hormones tell the blood-rich tissue to stay intact to support the growing baby; therefore, the body does not expel the lining as a period.
The symptoms of endometriosis are suppressed during pregnancy but the disease is not eradicated, and symptoms usually return at some point post-childbirth.
In some cases, women only experience symptoms of endometriosis after having a child.
These medications act in a similar way as the hormones the body naturally creates during pregnancy, with the aim of stopping periods altogether. The symptoms of endometriosis are therefore only suppressed, the disease is not eradicated, and symptoms will usually return at some point after the treatment ends.
Menopause is a natural part of aging that usually occurs in women between 45 and 55 years of age. As estrogen levels decline, a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally.
With the body no longer having a regular menstrual cycle, it is thought that all symptoms of endometriosis should disappear. However, endometriosis can still occur past menopause.
A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed from a woman’s body.
It is probably the most commonly reported “cure” for endometriosis, but it isn’t one. As endometriosis isn’t limited to the uterus, removing the uterus won’t eradicate endometriosis from other areas of the body. This means endometriosis will continue to grow.
It should be noted, however, that endometrial tissue can also grow in the muscle layers of the wall of the womb, causing a condition called adenomyosis. The only way to eliminate adenomyosis is via hysterectomy.
A number of different techniques of laparoscopic surgery are used in treating endometriosis. These include laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) ablation, electrocoagulation/diathermy, excision surgery, helica thermal coagulator, and harmonic scalpel/CUSA (cavitron ultrasonic surgical aspirator).
Techniques such as laser ablation and electrical fulguration are ineffective because they don’t remove all of the endometriosis. With these surgeries, it is thought that most patients’ symptoms will return within a year. Excision surgery is seen as the gold standard of care in the treatment of endometriosis. This is because it removes the inflammatory tissue down to its roots, instead of just the tip of the disease. However, excision surgery is still not a cure for endometriosis and symptoms can return.
The phrase “cure” is often thrown around in both the medical world and by sufferers who have found a treatment that has worked for them, and who have been led to believe by their doctors that this has subsequently ridden them of the disease. However, if these treatments do not remove the disease from the body, and every single microscopic cell of it, the disease is simply suppressed — not eradicated.
Until a cure for endometriosis is discovered, these methods are seen as effective treatment paths in the management of endometriosis pain.
You can follow more of my journey over at www.emlwy.com.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.