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Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside the uterus. In some of the most frequent cases, the endometrium (the lining tissue of the uterus), the ovaries and the fallopian tubes are involved in the issue. In rare cases, the tissue might grow outside the pelvic cavity. Endometriosis is a painful condition that is affecting more than 10 million women worldwide. Out of these, 25% show no symptoms of the condition. Exposed to develop endometriosis are women in their 40s and 50s. However, it can affect younger women as well.
Women suffering from endometriosis have the tissue lining the uterus overly developed. However, even if there is an abnormality the woman’s uterus continues to act normally, having menstrual cycles. Unfortunately, the tissue that is usually eliminated during menstruation days has no ways of exiting the body, remaining trapped inside. This leads to cyst formation, cysts that are known in the profile literature as endometriomas. In many cases, the surrounding tissue becomes irritated, affection that leads to scar tissue formation. Another abnormality present in women suffering from this condition is adhesion formation, a type of band that facilitates and promotes the internal organs to stick together or stick to the pelvic tissue. Tissue growth appears as a result of the inflammation, but worth mentioning is the fact that this type of growth is not malign. Needless to say, the condition is extremely painful in many cases. However, 25% of the women diagnosed with this condition never show any signs or symptoms.
The cause of the condition remains unclear. However, there is the genetic factor that plays a great role in the condition. Many women that are diagnosed with endometriosis claim that their mother’s also struggled with the condition. The first sign of endometriosis is pelvic pain, during or outside the menstrual days. While most of the women experience pain while menstruating, women with endometriosis describe it as excruciating. More than this, the pain seems to escalate in time. Some of the most commons symptoms of endometriosis are as described below.
Although all these endometriosis symptoms are present especially during periods, women with endometriosis also experience these outside it. While the pain experienced during periods is one of the indicators of the disease, it doesn’t always indicate the condition. Many women in advanced stages of endometriosis never experience pain, for instance. Also, the condition can be easily mistaken for other conditions such as inflammatory pelvic disease, ovarian cysts, and irritable bowel disease.
During pregnancy, women with endometriosis notice that their symptoms end, and reoccur after the pregnancy. In women at menopause, the symptoms will end permanently.
The presence of several symptoms presented above should alarm women. Medical imaging is one way of diagnosing endometriosis.
Laparoscopy is an intervention which may prove the presence of outgrown endometrial tissue and is one of the most secure endometriosis diagnosis methods. Through a small incision, an internal camera is introduced in the pelvic cavity in order to detect the presence of abnormal tissue. However, in many cases the growths are not visible to the naked eye, case in which a biopsy is necessary.
Endometriosis is divided into four categories or stages, as they are also known, depending on the condition’s severity. Stage I is the least severe, while stage IV is an extreme form of the condition.
Although the causes of endometriosis are unclear, there are some other conditions that may lead to the disease.
In terms of endometriosis risk factors, specialists have identified a list of variables that may increase a woman’s chances of developing endometriosis.
Unfortunately, endometriosis is also leading to severe complications, besides the excruciating pain oftentimes experienced. The most severe endometriosis complications are infertility and ovarian cancer.
While endometriosis is untreatable, certain therapies may improve the symptoms. Treatment & care in endometriosis oftentimes consists of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and hormonal treatments, especially oral contraceptives. Surgery may be recommended in some cases.
Endometriosis & Surgery
A traditional approach to endometriosis is the surgical attempt to bring the uterus to the normal anatomy, as much as possible. By this, specialists understand the surgical removal of the adhesions that appear in the condition. The procedure is somehow complicated, because the surgeon has to remove first the endometrium and reattach it afterwards. Unfortunately, many cases, infertility may occur as a side-effect of the surgery, but not in all cases. A minimally invasive type of surgery is laparoscopy. Certain surgeons prefer a technique during which the ovaries’ activity is suspended in the post-operatory interval, with the purpose to reduce the risk of adhesion reappearance. However, regardless of the precautions, in an interval of 5 years, in more than half of the women that undergo surgery, the issue reappears.
Hysterectomy is the recommended therapy for endometriosis, for women who don’t want to get pregnant. For better results, it is recommended the combination of this surgery with endometrium removal.
Endometriosis and Hormonal Treatment
For many women, endometriosis is an agonizing disease. Unfortunately, it affects the patient’s life on all levels, from personal to professional and romantic. With excruciating pain that in some cases is persistent to anti-inflammatory drugs, many women struggle with continuous pain throughout their periods, and in some cases outside those. The disease starts showing the first signs during the teenage years. For teenage girls that experience a debilitating disease like this, it can impact the self-esteem and body image, while decreasing the appreciation towards their femininity. Nevertheless, many have learned how to live with this debilitating condition.
A debilitating disease, a disease that is affecting all areas of a woman’s life, endometriosis has severe symptoms usually defined by an excruciating pain. The most secure treatment method is hysterectomy, a therapy solution unfortunately unsuitable for women that want to conceive.