Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body.
Endometriosis lesions can be found anywhere in the pelvic cavity: on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and on the pelvic sidewall. Other common sites include the uterosacral ligaments, the cul-de-sac, the Pouch of Douglas, and in the rectal-vaginal septum. Endometriosis is estimated to affect over one million women (estimates range from 3% to 18% of women) in the United States. It is one of the leading causes of pelvic pain and reasons for laparoscopic surgery and hysterectomy in this country. While the mean age at diagnosis is around 25-30 years, endometriosis has been reported in girls as young as 11 years of age.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Doctors aren’t sure what causes endometriosis. They do know that it is slightly more common in teens and women who have a family member who has been diagnosed with endometriosis.
There are several theories about how the endometrial tissue actually gets outside the uterus in the first place. One theory suggests that the menstrual blood flow somehow “backs up” into the fallopian tubes, carrying some tissue from the uterine lining with it. In effect, the tissue gets transplanted and starts growing outside the uterus.
What are the symptoms?
* Pain before and during periods
* Pain with sex
* Painful urination during periods
* Painful bowel movements during periods
* Diarrhoea, constipation, nausea
Managing your pain is the cornerstone of successful treatment because pain is the most common reason women with endometriosis seek health care.
Conservative surgery – Although hormone therapies are effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms of endometriosis, they prevent pregnancy. If you have endometriosis and are trying to become pregnant, surgery to remove implants may increase your chances of success. If you have severe pain from endometriosis, you may also benefit from surgery.
Hormone therapy can be used to stop ovulation, and shrink the endometrial growths. However, there are side effects.
There is no proven prevention for endometriosis. Women with a strong family history of endometriosis may consider taking oral contraceptive pills, as this treatment may help to prevent or slow down the development of the disease.