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Endometriosis - A Woman's Painful, Cruel Condition

endometriosis-a-womans-painful-cruel-condition

Endometriosis Facts

Endometriosis is a painful condition in women where cells (endometrium) that are similar to those in the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus. Physicians classify endometriosis in four stages.

These cells may grow in the following areas:

  • "Fallopian tubes
  • Ligaments around the uterus (uterosacral ligaments)
  • Lining of the pelvic cavity
  • Ovaries
  • Outside surface of the uterus
  • Space between the uterus and the rectum or bladder

Rarely the cells may also grow on and around the:

  • Bladder
  • Cervix
  • Intestines
  • Rectum
  • Stomach (abdomen)
  • Vagina or vulva"

These tissues then break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle. As it had no exit from the body it became trapped. Cysts and endometriosis may form and surrounding tissue becomes irritated.

It will gradually form scar tissue and adhesions (bands of fibrous tissue), which can cause pelvic tissue to stick to each other.

Endometriosis Statistics

Endometriosis affects 10% (190,000) of women worldwide between ages 15 to 44. This includes 6.5 million U.S. women.

The prevalence of endometriosis in women with infertility be as high as to 30–50%

endometriosis-a-womans-painful-cruel-condition

Symptoms of Endometriosis

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pain, which is more severe during the menstrual period (dysmenorrhea), and it can be life altering.

  • In addition to abdominal pain, it may also occur in lower back
  • Pain during or after intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements or during urination, primarily during menstrual period
  • Excessive bleeding, occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods
  • Infertility
  • You may experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea during menstrual periods

The severity of the pain may indicate the extent of the condition. It's possible to have severe pain with mild endometriosis or mild pain with advanced endometriosis.

It typically takes eight years to get a diagnosis. This condition is sometimes mistaken for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

5 Warning Signs of Endometriosis

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Diagnosis

The doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms as they must rule out other medical problems causing abdominal pain. Diagnosis might require the following tests or procedures, including:

  • A pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound where the transducer device will either pressed against your abdomen or inserted into your vagina
  • MRI for a detailed image
  • Laparoscopy performed by a surgeon with anesthesia and a tiny incision near your navel to insert a slender viewing instrument to look for endometrial tissue outside of the uterus

Treatments

Your physician will probably start with conservative treatments, but they will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Over-the-counter pain meds like anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) will be tiring first.

The most common options include:

  • Oral contraceptives with estrogen and progesterone to control hormones
  • Progestins to stop menstrual periods and endometrial tissue growth
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist to limit ovarian hormones
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist to stop ovarian hormones

Conservative surgery is sometimes necessary.

My Experience

Several years ago I was diagnosed with endometriosis. All the treatment failed. I had fairly intense pain and a very heavy flow during my monthly menstrual periods. The doctor told me we needed to remove one of my ovaries and maybe my uterus.

When I woke up from surgery he told me he removed both ovaries, my uterus and my appendix, so I would never have appendicitis. The pain was excruciating for a couple of days, and I was started on hormone therapy.

Once I recovered I was glad I had the surgery as I had no monthly periods. I did not feel like less of a woman either.

Endometriosis | Causes, Pathophysiology, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Things Putting You at Higher Risk

Several things put you at a higher risk.

  • Mother, sister or daughter who has endometriosis
  • Abnormal uterus (doctor would diagnose)
  • Early menstruation (before age 11)
  • Shorter menstrual periods (less than 27 days on average)
  • Heavy menstrual periods lasting more than 7 days

Some Things Lowering Risk

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Having first period after age 14
  • Eating fruits, especially citrus fruits

In Conclusion

Endometriosis can be a very painful and difficult condition. Seeing your gynecologist for routine visits should help with beneficial treatments.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2023 Pamela Oglesby

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