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What is Endometriosis?

HPFY Staff Writer

What is Endometriosis? 

The insides of the uterus have a soft tissue lining on the walls called the endometrium. Sometimes, a tissue like the tissue present inside grows on the outer side of the endometrium. This results in severe pain and discomfort, which might interrupt daily life. This painful disorder is referred to as endometriosis. This condition impacts women between 25 and 40 years but can also happen to teenagers. The areas most affected by endometriosis are ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis. These tissues would rarely be found in areas beyond the pelvic region.  

Below are some other parts of the body where endometriosis may develop: 

  • Fallopian Tubes 
  • Ovaries 
  • Vagina 
  • Bladder and Uterus 
  • Intestine 
  • Rectum 
  • Pelvic Region 

As the tissue is like the tissue inside the uterus, it acts like one. Since there is no way for this tissue to exit the body, it gets trapped inside. The tissue would thicken, break down, and bleed during each menstrual cycle.  

If endometriosis affects the ovaries, it might result in cysts called endometriomas. Due to the cysts, the surrounding tissue becomes irritated and develops scars and adhesions. Because of these adhesions, pelvic region tissues and organs stick to each other.  

All these complexities might result in severe pain during menstrual cycles and cause fertility problems.   

 

Is endometriosis genetic? 

Although the cause of endometriosis is unknown, theories indicate that genetics play a role. Genetic studies demonstrate a high occurrence of the disease in families and close relatives. It is advisable to consult a doctor in such cases to understand the probability of inheriting this disease in the future.  

What is the main cause of endometriosis? 

In the absence of an exact cause, some of the possible reasons are: 

  • Retrograde menstrual flow – In retrograde menstruation, some menstrual blood containing the endometrial tissue flows back via the fallopian tubes to the other body parts, such as the pelvic area. It does not exit the body. These tissues then stick to the pelvic area and thicken, break down and bleed during the menstrual cycle. 
  • Cells transformation – Experts also propose that the cells that form the inner side of the abdomen transform into endometrial-like cells. 
  • Hormones – Estrogen also promotes endometriosis. 
  • Surgery – During an abdominal surgery or a C-Section, endometrial cells may stick to the surgical site. 
  • Transport via blood vessels – These cells might get transported to other body parts via blood vessels and other tubes. 
  • Immunity problems – A problem with the immune system might render the body unable to find and destroy these cells. 
  • Genetics – If one person in the family has endometriosis, there are chances that it would be passed on to another member in the family too.   

What are the symptoms of endometriosis? 

One thing to note is that majority of the symptoms appear during menstruation. The most common is pain in the pelvic area.

 Other symptoms may include: 

  • Painful menstruation – One may experience severe pain during the menstrual cycle. It may begin before and extend to several days after the cycle too. At times, you might experience painful bowel movements or urination during menstruation. 
  • Pain during intercourse – Pain during sex is also a common symptom. 
  • Bleeding – Spotting or heavy bleeding occurrences might happen between periods. If the frequency is high, it is advisable to consult a doctor. 
  • Problems in conceiving – At times, endometriosis is diagnosed in females who seek infertility treatment. 
  • Other stomach problems – Other problems like diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or bloating might also arise during the menstrual cycle. 

While the pain is persistent, it cannot be said that the severity of the abdominal pain is a reliable factor in understanding the extent of this condition. It could be mild endometriosis with severe abdominal and back pain or an advanced stage with relatively lesser pain. 

Apparently, this pain could also be mistaken for other conditions that cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ovarian cysts. 

What happens if endometriosis is left untreated?   

If left untreated, the tissue can grow on the outer wall of the uterus and other body parts and cause severe pain in the long term. It can also cause problems with pregnancy

While endometriosis cannot be prevented, there are a few things that might help in lowering the risk, such as –  

  • Avoiding alcohol 
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Avoiding or limiting caffeinated drinks as they increase the levels of estrogen in the body  

Endometriosis could prove to be a difficult condition to manage, but a timely diagnosis and a proper understanding of the diagnosis could help manage the symptoms better. Taking care of the body, and its functions, keeping a check on any unusual experience, and reaching out to a healthcare provider at the right time can aid in improving daily life and managing endometriosis effectively. 

Reference Links –

 

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HPFY HPFY Staff Writer

HPFY Staff Writer

  

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