Endometriosis – Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Endometriosis is the growth of cells similar to those that form the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis is one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women. Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects 5 1/2 million women and girls in the USA In women with this problem, tissue that looks and acts like the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus in other areas. In endometriosis, the tissue that lines the uterus (the endometrium, from endo, “inside”, and metra, “womb”) is found to be growing outside the uterus, on or in other areas of the body. Normally, the endometrium is shed each month during the menstrual cycle; however, in endometriosis, the misplaced endometrium is usually unable to exit the body. The endometriotic tissues still detach and bleed, but the result is far different: internal bleeding, degenerated blood and tissue shedding, inflammation of the surrounding areas, pain, and formation of scar tissue may result. In addition, depending on the location of the growths, interference with the normal function of the bowel, bladder, small intestines and other organs within the pelvic cavity can occur. In very rare cases, endometriosis has also been found in the skin, the lungs, the diaphragm, and the brain.

Major symptom of endometriosis is severe recurring pain. Pain before and during periods and pain with sex , infertility and fatigue. Other Gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea. Premenstrual or intermenstrual spotting (bleeding between periods). Endometriosis may lead to fallopian tube obstruction. Even without this, there may be difficulty conceiving. In some women, subfertility is the sole symptom, and the endometriosis is only discovered after fertility investigations. Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. Women often describe the pain as a constant, aching pain that is deep and often spreads to both sides of the pelvic region, the lower back, abdomen, and buttocks. An entity known as an endometrioma may develop. This is an area of endometriosis on the ovary that has become enlarged. When the center of this fills with blood, it is known as a chocolate cyst. Chocolate cysts can become very painful, mimicking the symptoms of other ovarian problems.

Endometriosis is a condition caused by excess estrogen created each month in the female body and faulty immune system plays a part in endometriosis. Triggers of various kind (including menses, toxins, or immune factors) may be necessary to start this process In women with the disease, the immune system fails to find and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus. Plus, a recent study shows that immune system disorders (health problems in which the body attacks itself) are more common in women with endometriosisEndometriosis results from the transport of viable endometrial cells through retrograde menstruation. Cells flow backwards through the fallopian tubes and deposit on the pelvic organs where they seed and grow. A population of cells reside in the endometrium, which retain stem cell properties. It may be these properties that allow these cells to survive in ectopic locations. Endometriosis does not represent transplanted endometrium but starts de novo from local stem cells. This process has been referred to as coelomic metaplasia. On rare occasions endometriosis may be transplanted by blood or by the lymphatic system into peripheral organs (e.g. lungs, brain). Endometriosis is a genetic birth abnormality in which endometrial cells develop outside the uterus during fetal development.

There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are many treatments for the pain and infertility that it causes. Hormonal therapy may include birth control pills, progestins, a class of drugs known as GnRH-agonists, and danazol (though this is seldom used any more). Conservative surgery seeks to remove or destroy the growths, relieve pain, and may allow pregnancy to occur in some cases. Pain of endometriosis is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Oral contraceptive pills (estrogen and progesterone in combination) are also sometimes used to treat endometriosis. The most common combination used is in the form of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). Danazol (Danocrine) and gestrinone are suppressive steroids with some androgenic activity. Hysterectomy should only be considered by women who do not want to become pregnant in the future. Avoid coffee and alcohol. Both can increase the levels of estrone. Melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased. Many cases, Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) has proven to relax or suppress the pain and relieve stress.