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Endometriosis

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Introduction

Endometriosis is a disorder involving a tissue similar to the tissue lining the uterus growing outside the uterus. Endometriosis occurs in ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic tissue and seldom spreads beyond pelvic organs.

Endometrial-like tissue that is formed starts thickening, breaking down, and bleeds during the menstrual cycle, but this tissue has no scope of escaping your body. Hence, it remains entrapped. Endometriosis in ovaries leads to form cysts known as endometriomas. Tissues encompassing get irritated, forming scar tissues, adhesions, abnormal fibrous tissue bands, causing pelvic organs and tissue to adhere to each other. Endometriosis is painful during menstruation because of which fertility issues occur.

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What are the Causes of Endometriosis?

The cause of Endometriosis is unknown, but some explanations include:

  • Retrograde menstruation: During retrograde menstruation, the menstrual blood composed of endometrial cells flows back into the pelvic cavity through the fallopian tubes instead of flowing out of the body. The endometrial cells adhere to the pelvic organ surface with amplified growth, continuing thickening, and bleeds during the menstrual cycle.
  • Peritoneal cell transformation: The “induction theory” proposes that when hormones or immune factors help cells lining the abdomen’s inner side to transform into endometrial-like cells causes Endometriosis.
  • Embryonic cell transformation: Estrogen hormones transform the cells in the early stages of development (embryonic cells) into endometrial-like cell implants during puberty.
  • Surgical scar implantation: Endometrial cells can attach to a surgical incision after surgeries like hysterectomy or C-section.
  • Endometrial cell transplant: The lymphatic system or blood vessels can carry endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
  • Immune system dysfunction: If there is a problem with your immune system functioning, your body cannot identify and destroy endometrial-like tissue that seems to grow outside the uterus.

What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?

The initial symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain associated with menstrual periods. Many of you experience abdominal cramps during periods. If you have Endometriosis, the pain is described as unbearable and is said to increase over time. Some of the other symptoms include:

  • Dysmenorrhea (painful periods): You may experience pelvic pain and cramping before starting your periods extending several days into the menstrual period. You also tend to have associated symptoms of lower back and abdominal pain.
  • Dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse): You may experience pain during and after sex.
  • Excessive bleeding: You experience heavy periods that are occasional and bleeding in between your periods.
  • Other symptoms: Other symptoms may include bloating, fatigue, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.

How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

To diagnose Endometriosis, the doctor may recommend the following tests after the initial history and physical examination.

  • Pelvic exam: During your pelvic exam, the physician palpates your pelvic area to look for abnormalities or any cysts on your reproductive organs or scars behind your uterus.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound involves using high-frequency sound waves to get inside the body images. Though it cannot determine Endometriosis, it can identify the cysts from Endometriosis.
  • MRI: MRI helps to detailed information of endometrial implants like size and location.
  • Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy helps your physician examine your internal abdominal area and collect tissue samples. These tissue samples are tested, and endometriosis is confirmed.

How is Endometriosis Treated?

Treatment for Endometriosis may include medications or surgery.  You can discuss with your doctor to understand which approach is better. However, the doctor may recommend some conservative treatment options before opting for surgery. The nonsurgical treatments may include pain medications and hormone therapy.

If surgery is warranted, it may include surgical removal of endometrial implants preserving ovaries and uterus if you prefer to get pregnant; if not, hysterectomy is performed.

What are the Risks Associated with Endometriosis treatments?

Surgical risks are minimal. However, complications include infertility and cancer if Endometriosis persists.

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FAQ's

Who is Likely to Contract Endometriosis?

It occurs in teenagers to adult women who get their periods but is most common in 30 to 40 years of age.

What Increases My Chances of Endometriosis?

You are likely to be affected by Endometriosis if you never had children, menstrual periods lasting more than seven days, or a menstrual cycle short for 27 days. Hereditary, in case a family member has the disorder. A health issue affecting the normal menstrual blood flow causing damage to the pelvis cells due to infection can also cause Endometriosis.

How Do you Decrease your Chances of Contracting Endometriosis?

  • ● Regular exercise
  • ● Maintaining a low body fat.
  • ● Refraining alcohol and caffeinated drinks

Why is it Important to Find if you Have Endometriosis?

Studies indicate that women with Endometriosis avoid social gatherings, refrain from going to school and work.

Is Endometriosis an Infectious or Sexually Transmitted Disease?

The factors responsible for Endometriosis are unknown; however, it is not an infectious or sexually transmitted disease as one person cannot transfer it to another person.

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