What is Endometriosis?

Looking Out for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition that causes cells and tissues similar to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to grow outside the uterus. Just like endometrium, this endometrial-like tissue thickens and breaks down during a menstrual cycle; however, because it is outside the uterus, it has no way of leaving the body. This results in persistent pain, painful cysts, scarring and adhesions, and fertility problems, depending on the tissue’s location.

Thankfully, there are available treatments like surgery, medications, and home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms of endometriosis.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Some common indicators that a woman may have endometriosis include:

  • Heavy and prolonged period that lasts for more than 7 days
  • Painful menstrual cramps
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Pain during and after sex
  • Constipation during period
  • Spotting during the menstrual period
  • Pelvic pain

Risk Factors

Endometriosis can affect women at any age, but it commonly afflicts those who are in their 30s or 40s. There are also other risk factors that can contribute to the development of endometriosis, including:

  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Women who had their periods earlier than average or late menopause
  • Fertility problems
  • Excessive levels of oestrogen in the body
  • Reproductive tract disorders

Causes of Endometriosis

While the main cause of endometriosis is still unknown, some possible causes include:

  • Immune system disorders: A weak immune system is not able to detect and destroy abnormal tissue that grows outside the uterus.
  • Genetics: Those who have a mother, sister or other relatives diagnosed with endometriosis have a higher chance of also developing the condition.
  • Surgery: While rare, endometrial cells may become displaced during surgical procedures such as a caesarean section or a hysterectomy.
  • Retrograde menstruation: This is an occurrence in which endometrial cells from menstruation flow back up the fallopian tubes instead of out of the body.
  • Hormones: An abnormally high level of oestrogen is linked to having endometriosis.

Treatments for Endometriosis

  • Home remedies: One may take warm baths and use a heating pad, which relaxes pelvic muscles, reducing pain and cramping.
  • Medication: Patients can take over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage painful menstrual cramps.
  • Hormone therapy: Pain can be addressed by taking hormone therapy, which is available in various forms such as injection, shot, or pill. This stops the ovaries from generating hormones like oestrogen, which increase the chances of developing endometriosis. It can also slow the formation of endometrial lesions and endometrium.
  • Removal of Endometriosis Tissues: For patients who want to have their endometriosis removed while still preserving their fertility, they can opt for surgery, specifically laparoscopic surgery if eligible. This helps remove abnormal tissue without affecting the ovaries and uterus.
  • Hysterectomy: The last resort, removing the uterus altogether and/or the ovaries (oophorectomy) is the most effective way to treat endometriosis and prevent it from recurring.
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