[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Endometriosis is a disease characterized by growth of tissue that normally lines the uterus in other parts of the body. “Endo” means “inside,” while “metrium” refers to the uterus, which is the organ where babies developed and carried by mothers. The areas affected by endometriosis include the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, behind the uterus, the tissues that hold the uterus in place, and the bowels or bladder. The tissue that develops is often referred to as implants, nodules, or lesions. Endometriosis is a painful condition that may have severe consequences, but it can be treated.
According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Because some women might have endometriosis, but do not have symptoms, it is difficult to know exactly how many women have the condition. Current estimates suggest that 6% to 10% of women of reproductive age have endometriosis, or approximately 5 million women in the United States. In 2011, the NICHD-led Endometriosis: Natural History, Diagnosis, and Outcomes study found that 11% of a group of women with no symptoms of endometriosis actually had the disorder.”
What is Endometriosis’ Causes and Development?
Despite the fact that the causes of the development of endometriosis are not fully understood, researchers do have some theories about what causes it. The condition may be caused by a process known as retrograde menstrual flow, which occurs when part of the tissue shed during the menstrual period flows through the fallopian tubes in to the pelvis. Not all women who experience retrograde menstrual flow also suffer endometriosis, but it is more likely. However, researchers believe the disease is caused by a combination of factors. These include genetics as well as the level of estrogen in the body, since the hormone is involved in the female reproductive cycle and endometriosis is an estrogen-dependent, inflammatory disease.
In patients with endometriosis, the endometrium is progesterone resistant, which means that it may not respond as it should to the hormone that is also involved in the female reproductive cycle, also contributing to the development of the disease. Due to an immune system dysfunction, patients also have an inability to destroy endometrial tissue, leading to it continuously growing outside the uterus. In addition, environmental exposures in the womb to chemicals like dioxin is also related to endometriosis. The disease is most common among women in their 30s and 40s, but it can develop in any woman who menstruates.
What Are Endometriosis’ Symptoms and How is it Diagnosed?
The main symptoms associated with endometriosis are pelvic pain, which occurs in 75% of the patients, and fertility problems, which occur in 50% of patients, according to the NIH. Other common symptoms of endometriosis include painful, debilitating menstrual cramps, which may get worse over time; pain during or after sex; pain in the intestine or lower abdomen; painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods; heavy menstrual periods; premenstrual spotting or bleeding between periods; painful bladder syndrome; digestive or gastrointestinal symptoms similar to a bowel disorder; and fatigue, tiredness, or lack of energy.
When patients experience these symptoms, the most common option to confirm the diagnosis is surgery. Patients undergo a laparoscopy, during which the surgeon uses an instrument to slightly inflate the abdomen with a harmless gas. Then, a small camera is used to observe the reproductive organs, intestines, and other surfaces in order to determine targeted treatment approaches. A biopsy is also an option, but it is a more complicated procedure, which consists of taking a small tissue sample to be analyzed. Additional imaging tests like an ultrasound or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be requested.
Endometriosis Treatment and Prognosis
There is currently no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments to address pain and fertility problems related to it. Determining the most appropriate treatment depends on a patient’s age, severity of the symptoms, severity of the disease, and if the woman has children or not. To address pain, the options include pain medication like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids, hormone therapy in the form of a pill, a shot or injection, or a nasal spray, as well as surgery, which include laparoscopy, laparotomy, and surgery to sever pelvic nerves, and has been shown to be effective in significantly relieving endometriosis.
In the case of fertility problems, physicians may recommend laparoscopy to remove or vaporize the growths as a way to also improve fertility in women who have mild or minimal endometriosis. When the procedure does not achieve desired results, patients may resort to in vitro fertilization (IVF), which combines sperm and eggs in a laboratory to make an embryo. Endometriosis is not a life-threatening disease, but it causes discomfort and other problems. In rare cases, areas of endometriosis can grow in the lungs or in other parts of the body.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_wp_rss items=”7″ title=”Read the Latest Endometriosis News” url=”https://endometriosisnews.com/category/news-posts/feed”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_wp_text title=”Find Out More”]