Endometriosis is often harmless and infuriating at the same time. The common gynecological condition affects millions of women. There is no cure to the disease, but it is not fatal. Endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus is shed each month when a woman does not become pregnant. Endometriosis develops a tissue that looks like the same that sheds, but is usually on the reproductive organs outside of the uterus building up and breaking down each month. This lookalike tissue becomes inflamed often swelling and scarring the normal tissue. It often bleeds and can even clot reproductive organs.
The Cause of Endometriosis
The common disorder has no cause. Women with increased risk of endometriosis have a heavy monthly menstrual flow, a short cycle and/or a family history of the disorder. The misplaced tissue often grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the uterus ligaments, the lining of the pelvic cavity and the outer surface of the uterus.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is often hard to recognize as some women have no symptoms while others have severe symptoms. Many women feel pain in the pelvic area, lower back or rectum. Severe menstrual cramps or pain during intercourse are symptoms of the disorder. Some women have blood in their urine or stool, bleed before their menstrual period or bleed after sex. All of these symptoms are often mistaken as other medical issues or an abnormal menstrual cycle. Infertility may be the only symptom that some women have endometriosis. If any of these symptoms raise a red flag, see a doctor.
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
A doctor may be able to actually feel tissue in the ligaments of the pelvis, displaced pelvic organs and an ovarian endometrioma. Doctors can do a laparoscopy by making tiny incisions and removing tissue to examine to conclude if a patient has endometriosis. Less invasive ways to diagnose the disorder include an ultrasound that may show anything out of the ordinary in the internal organs as well as a CT scan or MRI scan can detect anything that will not show up on an X-ray.
Treatment of Endometriosis
There are four stages of endometriosis: minimal, mild, moderate and severe. The stage depends on the location, depth, amount and size of the tissue. Treatment is based on the stage and your medical history. Some need no treatment at all other than light pain medication. Severe endometriosis may need hormone therapy to prevent ovulation or surgery. A minor procedure called a laparoscopy can be inserted into the abdominal wall where a doctor can remove tissue. A laparotomy is a surgery that includes removing tissue without damaging healthy tissue. A hysterectomy can be done to patients with severe conditions taking out the ovaries and uterus leaving them unable to bear children. If a patient does not want to treat endometriosis, it will last until menopause. After the menstrual cycle subsides at menopause the misplaced tissue usually gets smaller and does not cause any problems. Speak with your doctor for the best treatment.