ENDOMETRIOSIS – Facts & Essentials
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Endometriosis is a condition in which a tissue similar to the inside lining of the uterus called endometrium grows outside of the uterus. It most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining pelvis. In rare cases, it can also spread beyond pelvic regions.
In this condition, the endometrial tissue would thicken, break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle as it normally would, but this thicken endometrium has no place to exit and thus becomes trapped in the pelvis, causing the area to become inflamed and painful. If it grows around ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form, making the surrounding tissues irritated, and eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions. Further problems that can be caused by endometriosis are
- Fertility problems
- Severe menstrual pain
- Adhesions, in which tissues bind the pelvic organs together
- Scar formation
The symptoms of endometriosis vary. The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often related to menstrual periods.The severity of the pain does not determine the stage of the disorder. Some people may have a mild form with an unbearable pain, while others may have severe form with a little to no pain at all. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
Also known as dysmenorrhea, the pelvic or menstrual pain may begin before you start menstruating and lasts several days into a menstrual cycle.
One might also suffer from lower back and abdominal pain before and during menstruation.
You may suffer from excessive bleeding or bleeding between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
Endometriosis often is diagnosed in women seeking infertility treatments.
One may find discomfort when urinating and having bowel movements during menstrual periods.
This is also another symptom of endometriosis.
Other symptoms that you may experience if suffering from endometriosis are: diarrhea, fatigue, constipation, bloating and nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
MISTAKEN WITH PID AND IBS:
Endometriosis is often mistaken for other diseases such as:
- It is mistaken with the conditions associated with pelvic pain like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) or ovarian cysts.
- Another very common disease with which it is mistaken is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition which causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. It can accompany endometriosis and complicate the diagnosis.
Although the exact causes of endometriosis are uncertain, following are the possible causes for it:
One of the oldest theories of what causes endometriosis is retrograde menstruation. In this condition, the menstrual fluid, instead of getting out from the cervix through vagina, flows back to the pelvic cavity through the fallopian tubes.
Transformation of peritoneal cells:
In another theory, another cause of endometriosis is that there is a hormone in the body which transforms the cells outside the uterus similar to those cells lining inside the uterus called endometrial cells.
Surgical scar implantation:
A few researchers believe that after a surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision, or the blood may leak into the pelvic cavity through a surgical scar especially after a C-section, causing endometriosis
Endometrial cell transport:
Another theory identifies endometrial cell transport as the cause of endometriosis. In this, the blood vessels or tissue fluid (lymphatic) system may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
Immune system disorder:
Immune system disorder in which the immune system fails to recognize and kill the endometrial-like tissue that is growing outside the uterus may also be a cause of endometriosis.
It may also be linked to genetics.
The estrogen hormone appears to promote endometriosis and it might be another cause.
Endometriosis has four stages:
These stages are determined by different factors which are location, size number and depth of endometrial implants.
Endometriosis usually develops several years after the onset of menstruation. There are several factors that may put you on a greater risk to develop endometriosis. Following are some of the risk factors:
- Early onset of periods
- Menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycles — for instance, less than 27 days
- Heavy menstrual periods lasting longer than seven days
- Higher levels of estrogen in your body
- Reproductive tract abnormalities
- One or more relatives (mother, aunt or sister) with endometriosis
- Abnormal passage of menstrual fluid out of the body
There is no cure known at the moment for endometriosis, but measures and treatments can be taken to prevent the condition from worsening and managing the symptoms. Both medical and surgical options are available for treating it, depending upon the severity of the disease. We’ll be naming a few treatments that can be taken to cure the symptoms below:
- Pain medications
- Hormone therapy
- Hormonal contraceptives
- Gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) Agonists and Antagonists
- Conservative surgery
Endometriosis can’t be prevented, but you can reduce the chances of developing it. The level of estrogen hormones should be kept low. Estrogen is the hormone which thickens the lining of the uterus during the menstrual cycle. Following are a few steps that you can take to avoid the chance of getting endometriosis:
Hormonal Birth Control Methods:
You should talk to your doctor for hormonal birth control methods such as pills or patches with lower doses of estrogen.
Exercise not only makes you healthy and fit, but your mind also freshens. As much as it helps in keeping the body fat low, exercise also helps in lowering the levels of estrogen circulating in your body
Alcohol is a big no if you want to stay away from the chance of getting endometriosis
Avoid Large Amount Drinks of Caffeine:
Studies have proved that drinking more soda and caffeinated drinks raise the level of estrogen in your body. So, in order to stay fit, avoid consuming large amounts of drinks and caffeine.
Say No to Processed and Fast food:
Processed and fast food is very unhealthy, containing a lot of fat and sugar. You should absolutely minimize its intake.
HEALTHY DIET TO TAKE IN ENDOMETRIOSIS:
To fight the pain and inflammation caused by endometriosis or to avoid the chances of endometriosis in the first place, a healthy diet and balanced diet is must. It’s best to consume a well balanced diet that has the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins, and is primarily plant-based full of minerals. Add these to your diet:
- fibrous foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
- iron-rich foods: dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, fortified grains, nuts, and seeds
- foods rich in essential fatty acids: salmon, sardines, herring, trout, walnuts, chia, and flax seeds
- antioxidant-rich foods found in colourful fruits and vegetables: oranges, berries, dark chocolate, spinach, and beets
- Omega-3 Fats: Increase the intake of omega-3 fats. These are healthy, anti-inflammatory fats that can be found in fatty fish and other animal and plant sources.
Along with this, do not forget to take your supplements that your doctor prescribed you. We suggest you consult a doctor and make a diet plan with your dietician. Most people can get their endometriosis in control if they follow a proper treatment plan, pain management strategies and a balanced healthy diet.