What is Endometriosis?

by Curswell Tshihwela

Endometriosis is a condition resulting from the appearance of endometrial tissue outside the uterus and causing pelvic pain, especially associated with menstruation in females. Endometriosis is an often-painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

With endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue acts as endometrial tissue would thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. However, because this tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped inside your body. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts and endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. Endometriosis can cause pain, sometimes severe especially during menstrual periods. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.

Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
  • Pain with intercourse. Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination. You are most likely to experience these symptoms during a menstrual period.
  • Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
  • Infertility. Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking treatment for infertility.
  • Other signs and symptoms. You may experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods

Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have lower back and abdominal pain.
  • Pain with intercourse. Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination. You are most likely to experience these symptoms during a menstrual period.
  • Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
  • Infertility. Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking treatment for infertility.
  • Other signs and symptoms. You may experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods

Causes of Endometriosis, although there are not exact certain facts are as follows.

  • Retrograde menstruation. In retrograde menstruation, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. These endometrial cells stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of each menstrual cycle.
  • Transformation of peritoneal cells. In what its known as the “induction theory,” experts propose that hormones or immune factors promote transformation of peritoneal cells — cells that line the inner side of your abdomen — into endometrial-like cells.
  • Embryonic cell transformation. Hormones such as estrogen may transform embryonic cells — cells in the earliest stages of development into endometrial-like cell implants during puberty.
  • Surgical scar implantation. After a surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision.
  • Endometrial cell transport. The blood vessels or tissue fluid (lymphatic) system may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
  • Immune system disorder. A problem with the immune system may make the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial-like tissue that is growing outside the uterus.

Several factors place you at greater risk of developing endometriosis, such as:

  • Never giving birth,
  • Starting your period at an early age,
  • Going through menopause at an older age,
  • Short menstrual cycles — for instance, less than 27 days,
  • Heavy menstrual periods that last longer than seven days,
  • Having higher levels of estrogen in your body or a greater lifetime exposure to estrogen your body produces,
  • Low body mass index,
  • One or more relatives (mother, aunt or sister) with endometriosis,
  • Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body,
  • Reproductive tract abnormalities

How to ease the endometriosis pain

  • Use an app to track your symptoms. Many period tracking apps, like Eve, let you input your symptoms and rate their severity. Take advantage of this feature to help predict how your cycle will influence your symptoms and pain.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Taking care of yourself by not smoking, not binge-drinking alcohol, and avoiding narcotics will keep your body feeling at its best.
  • Plan ahead. You know your body, and managing endometriosis means you are getting to know it even better. Give yourself extra time to get to events and get ready for work on the days of your cycle that you suspect your symptoms will flare.
  • Schedule self-care. Taking time to unwind, listen to your body, and fit your endometriosis needs into your schedule will help you feel in control of your symptoms.
  • Eat your veggies. There is a lack of knowledge about what causes endometriosis. Most vegetables are also high in fiber, which can help your digestion when you’re on your period.
  • Know that fatty acids are your friend. If you eat foods with lot of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, you may feel better overall..
  • Go natural. Dioxin, a chemical found in some pesticides and animal food sources, may trigger By cutting down on animal products that you consume and aiming to eat a low-gluten and organic diet as much as you can, you will be cutting your exposure to environmental toxins like dioxin.
  • Try acupuncture. Researchers have been optimistic Trusted Source about acupuncture as a pain management tool for endometriosis.

The main complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. For pregnancy to occur, an egg have be released from an ovary, travel through the neighboring fallopian tube, become fertilized by a sperm cell and attach itself to the uterine wall to begin development. Endometriosis may obstruct the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting. However, the condition also seems to affect fertility in less-direct ways, such as by damaging the sperm or egg. Ovarian cancer does occur at higher than expected rates in those with endometriosis. However, the overall lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is low to begin with.

 

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