What is endometriosis? symptoms, treatments, Complications
Endometriosis is a painful disorder most often due to tissue growth similar to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – outside the uterus. The most common endometriosis includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues lining the pelvis. Rarely, endometriosis may grow outside of the pelvic organs.
Endometriosis, endometriosis-like tissue functions like normal tissue — it thickens, loosens, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. However, because these tissues cannot leave your body, they get trapped inside the body. When endometriosis affects the ovaries, cysts known as endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissues can become irritated, ultimately leading to scarring tissue and adhesions – abnormal ligaments of fibrous tissue that can cause blockages in pelvic tissues and organs.
Endometriosis (endometriosis) can cause pain – and sometimes become more intense – especially during your period. Fertility problems may also appear. Fortunately, some effective treatments are available.
Endometriosis Symptoms :
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with menstrual periods. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual periods, those with endometriosis describe menstrual pain as worse than usual. The pain may also increase over time.
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may start before your period and last for several days after it starts. You may feel pain in the lower back and the abdomen as well.
Pain during sexual intercourse. Pain during or after sex is a common occurrence associated with endometriosis.
Pain during bowel movements or urination. You’re most likely to experience these symptoms during your period.
Excessive bleeding. You may experience heavy periods from time to time or intermenstrual bleeding (intermenstrual bleeding).
Sterility. Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking infertility treatment.
Other signs and symptoms. You may experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
The severity of your pain is not necessarily a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. You may feel excruciating pain when you have a mild case of endometriosis, or you may feel little or no pain when you have advanced endometriosis.
Endometriosis is sometimes confused with other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or an ovarian cyst. It can be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which causes diarrhea episodes, constipation, and abdominal cramping. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can accompany endometriosis, making the diagnosis complicated.
When to visit the doctor?
See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms that suggest endometriosis.
Endometriosis can be a difficult condition to treat. Early diagnosis, a multidisciplinary medical team, and understanding of your prognosis may improve symptom control.
Endometriosis causes :
Although the exact cause of endometriosis is uncertain, possible explanations include:
Reflux menstruation. In retrograde menstruation, menstrual blood that contains endometrial cells flows through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. These endometrial cells stick to the pelvic cavity walls and the surfaces of the pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed throughout each menstrual cycle.
The transformation of peritoneal cells. In what is known as the “induction theory,” experts suggest that hormones or immune factors promote the conversion of peritoneal cells – cells that line the inner side of the abdomen – into cells that resemble endometrial cells.
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The transformation of fetal cells. Hormones such as estrogen may convert fetal cells – cells in the early stages of development – into endometrial cell implants during puberty.
Surgical scar implantation. After a surgical procedure, such as a hysterectomy or a cesarean section, endometrial cells may attach themselves to the incision.
Endometrial cell transmission. Blood vessels or tissue fluid (lymph) may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
Immune system disorder. A problem with the immune system may cause the body to be unable to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus.
There are several factors that make you more likely to develop endometriosis, such as:
Never have children
You start your period at a young age.
Menopause begins at an advanced age.
Short menstrual cycles – e.g., less than 27 days
Hefty amounts of blood flow during the monthly menstrual periods that last for more than seven days
Increased levels of the hormone estrogen in your body or exposure to the hormone estrogen produced in your body for a more extended period
Low body mass index
If one or more female relatives (mother, aunt, or sister) have had endometriosis
Any medical conditions that hinder the normal flow of menstruation out of the body
Abnormalities in the reproductive system
Endometriosis usually appears several years after the start of your period (menstruation). Endometriosis’s signs and symptoms may improve temporarily with pregnancy, and they may disappear entirely with your menstrual period unless you take estrogen.
Endometriosis complications :
The main complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. About one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty becoming pregnant.
For pregnancy to occur, the ovary must release an egg, which travels through the adjacent fallopian tube, fertilizes it by a sperm cell, and then attaches itself to the uterus’s wall to begin growth.
Endometriosis may block the tube and prevent the egg and sperm from fusing. But it appears that this condition also indirectly affects fertility by damaging the sperm or egg.
Even so, many of those with mild to moderate endometriosis can still carry a pregnancy for a while. Doctors sometimes advise women with endometriosis not to delay childbearing because the condition may worsen over time.
Ovarian cancer rates are higher than expected for women with endometriosis. However, the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is low at first. Some studies suggest that endometriosis increases this risk, but it is still relatively low. Although rare, there is another type of cancer, adenocarcinoma, associated with endometriosis, which can occur later in life in women with endometriosis.
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