What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterine cavity.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows in the ovaries, intestines, and tissues that line the pelvis. It is unusual for endometrial tissue to extend beyond the pelvic region, but it is not impossible. Endometrial tissue that grows outside your uterus is known as an endometrial implant.
Hormonal changes in your menstrual cycle affect the endometrial tissue out of place, causing the area to swell and hurt. This means that the tissue will grow, thicken and decompose. Over time, the tissue that has broken down has nowhere to go and is trapped in your pelvis.
This tissue trapped in your pelvis can cause:
- scar formation
- adhesions, in which the tissue joins your pelvic organs
- severe pain during your periods
- fertility problems
- Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition that affects up to 10 percent of women. You are not alone if you have this disorder.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The severity of your pain does not indicate the degree or stage of the condition. You may have a mild form of the disease but experience agonizing pain. It is also possible to have a severe form and very little discomfort.
Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. You may also have the following symptoms:
- painful periods
- pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
- cramps one or two weeks around menstruation
- heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
- pain after sex
- discomfort with bowel movements
- low back pain that can occur at any time during your menstrual cycle
- You may also have no symptoms. It is important that you have regular gynecological exams, which will allow your gynecologist to monitor any changes. This is particularly important if you have two or more symptoms.
It is understandable that you want quick relief from pain and other symptoms of endometriosis. This condition can disrupt your life if it is not treated. Endometriosis has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed.
Medical and surgical options are available to help reduce your symptoms and control any possible complications. Your doctor can first try conservative treatments. They may then recommend surgery if your condition does not improve.
Everyone reacts differently to these treatment options. Your doctor will help you find the one that works best for you.
It can be frustrating to get a diagnosis and treatment options early in the disease. Due to fertility problems, pain and fear that there is no relief, this disease can be difficult to manage mentally. Consider finding a support group or educate yourself more about the condition. Treatment options include:
You can try over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, but these are not effective in all cases.
Hormone therapy helps your body regulate the monthly hormonal changes that promote tissue growth that occurs when you have endometriosis.
Hormonal contraceptives decrease fertility by preventing monthly growth and accumulation of endometrial tissue. Birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings can reduce or even eliminate pain in less severe endometriosis.
Medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera) injection is also effective in stopping menstruation. The growth of endometrial implants stops. Relieves pain and other symptoms. However, this may not be your first option, due to the risk of decreased bone production, weight gain and a higher incidence of depression in some cases.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists
Women take what are called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists to block the production of estrogens that stimulate the ovaries. Estrogen is the hormone that is primarily responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics. Blocking estrogen production prevents menstruation and creates artificial menopause.
GnRH therapy has side effects such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Taking small doses of estrogen and progesterone at the same time can help limit