Endometriosis is an abnormal complication which causes the uterine lining to grow outside the uterus instead of inside it. The uterine lining aka the endometrium usually grows in an area closer to the uterus such as the ovaries, bowel region, and even the pelvic area. There have only been a few documented cases of the uterine lining tissue being found in an area distant from the pelvic region.
Even though the endometrial tissues grow out of the uterus in the case of endometriosis, it continues the same mode of operation as it would have been inside the uterus. This means it becomes thicker at the onset of ovulation and disintegrates when the woman’s egg doesn’t get fertilized by a male sperm. The disintegrated lining turns into blood at the beginning of each menstrual cycle which becomes stagnant in the body due to the absence of a clear exit path out of the body.
Endometriomas are cysts that develop in the ovaries when endometrial tissues develop in that area. It causes grave effects on tissues found nearby, scarring them and getting them bound together. Many patients suffering from abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus report of varying levels of pain and discomfort.
Signs Of Endometriosis
Pain in the pelvic region especially during their menses is one of the most recognizable signs of endometriosis. While some level of abdominal cramping is common among majority of perfectly healthy women, this condition makes the pain unbearable. Many patients also notice the pain getting worse with each menstrual cycle. Additional signs of abnormal endometrial tissue growth include:
- Pain during sexual penetration or afterwards
- Pain and discomfort when peeing or moving your bowels
- Extreme menstrual flow of blood
- Inability to get pregnant or conceive in females
- Bowel movement disorders such as constant constipation or diarrhea
- Nausea during menses
Don’t forget that the extent of your condition has no bearing on the level of pain you may experience. While some patients with extreme endometriosis may experience little or no pain, others with mild condition may suffer severe pain and discomfort.
Doctors are yet to find a conclusive medical reason behind endometriosis but various possible theories currently exist including:
- Retrograde Menstruation: this is common disorder that causes menstrual blood filled with endometrial cells to be re-circulated back to the fallopian tubes and other key reproductive organs, instead of being pumped out of the body. Some of the endometrial cells and tissues get attached to some reproductive organs, growing and causing pain over time.
- Transformation of abdominal lining into endometrial tissues
- Accidental transfer of endometrial tissue into another part of the pelvic region during surgical procedures such as caesarian section or hysterectomy.
- Abnormalities in the immune system that prevents the body from identifying and attacking displaced endometrial cells.
There are various risk factors that increase your chances of getting exposed to endometriosis including:
- History of abnormal endometrial tissue growth in the family
- Lack of child birth
- Complications in the uterus
- Abnormal disorders that inhibit menstrual blood flow from the body
Many women suffer endometriosis late into adulthood and once pregnancy occurs, the signs of this condition may temporary cease until after childbirth.
Endometriosis Diagnostic Tests
Your gynecologist will likely order the following tests and examinations when you report the signs and symptoms of endometriosis:
- Ultrasound scans
- Examination of the pelvic region for abnormalities such as endometrial cysts
- Fallopian tube surgery
There are various tried and tested methods of treating endometriosis and its associated pain and discomfort.
- Pain killers such as Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve, etc.
- Hormone supplements to inhibit growth of endometrial tissue including Gn-RH agonists and antagonists, Depo-Provera, Danazol, etc.
Surgery may be prescribed for the removal of endometrial tissue cells as much as possible, especially in women who hope to get pregnant and become mothers in future. This surgery is conservative and your surgeon will try as much as possible to leave your ovaries and uterus intact.
If the abnormal endometrial tissue has severely affected your uterus and cervix then the two organs may have to be completely removed in a surgical procedure known as hysterectomy.
Several complications can arise in patients suffering from endometriosis including:
- Ovarian cancer
- Female infertility