Endometriosis is a medical condition caused by the abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterine cavity. The cells lining the inner mucous membrane of a woman’s uterus is known as the endometrium. The endometriosis disorder occurs when the endometrium grows on the bowel, ovaries, and on the tissues, lining the pelvis. In most of the cases, it has been observed that the endometrial tissue does not spread beyond the pelvic region. However, it is not impossible. The growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus is referred as the endometrial implant.
Even though the cause of the abnormal growth of endometrial cells is not completely identified, various shreds of evidences and research reports suggest that the hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle can misplace the endometrial tissue, which in turn, may lead to the growth, thickening, and breaking down of the tissue.
Over time the broken tissue gets trapped in the pelvis and may cause:
- Scar formation
- Adhesions, wherein the tissue binds the pelvic organs together
- Fertility problems
- Severe pain during periods
Endometriosis is one of the common gynecological conditions and is frequently observed in women experiencing infertility. However, it does not necessarily lead to infertility.
Causes of Endometriosis
Endometriosis often occurs in women in their 30’s and 40’s. Some of the possible causes of this medical condition include:
- Menstrual blood, during a regular monthly cycle, flows back to the pelvic cavity via fallopian tubes.
- The displaced cells stick to the pelvic walls of the organs like rectum, ovaries, and bladder.
- Cesarean delivery leading to the formation of surgical scar that leads to the growth, thickening, and bleeding of endometrial cells during a menstrual cycle.
- Cells in the pelvis and belly develop into endometrial cells.
- Abdominal growth from embryonic cells may change shape and emulate endometrial cells.
- Development of endometrial cells in a fetus.
The condition can be passed from generation to generation.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis are known to vary from woman to woman. While some women are subjected to mild symptoms, others experience moderate to severe complications. Listed below are some of the commonly recognized symptoms of endometriosis observed in the women:
1. Pain that can be:
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Pelvic pain
- Lower backache that may occur one or two days before the commencement of menstrual cycle or even earlier than that
- Rectal pain
- Painful intercourse
- Severe pain during bowel movements
2. Abnormal bleeding, which may include:
- Vaginal bleeding, before the monthly menstrual cycle starts
- Blood in the stool or urine
- Vaginal bleeding after sex
- Many research reports have indicated that almost 20 to 30 per cent of women, who are infertile, suffer from endometriosis.
Most of these endometriosis symptoms are often aggravated before or during the period. Post menstrual cycle, they are observed to get better. It has been noted that some ladies, particularly teens, experience pelvic or abdominal pain all the time. For this reason, it is important to get a consultation from a professional practitioner or a reputed gynecologist.
Diagnosis & Testing For Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis are similar to the symptoms of various other conditions like pelvic inflammation, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, etc. Therefore, it is necessary to accurately diagnose and timely treat this condition.
Some of the tests that are prescribed for the diagnosis of endometriosis include:
- Analyze Detailed Family History: In most cases, a doctor asks for the personal/family history and checks through the symptoms of endometriosis within the patient’s family.
- Physical Examination: A pelvic examination allows a doctor to manually check the abdomen of a patient for any scar or cyst formation around the uterus.
- Ultrasound Test: An abdominal ultrasound or a transvaginal ultrasound is used to examine the images of the reproductive organs.
- Laparoscopy Test: It is a small surgical procedure that is used by doctors to directly view and identify endometriosis in patients.
Above all, it is imperative to note that endometriosis is a chronic disorder, which has no cure. While the disorder has no direct impact on your day to day life, there are some effective treatments that can manage fertility issues and pain like medications, surgery, or hormonal therapy. Moreover, the symptoms of endometriosis generally get better after menopause.