Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus (called the endometrium) forms implants and grows outside your uterus, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the abdomen, the bladder or even the lungs. When you get your #period, this tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds (like it normally would inside the uterus), but it has no way to exit the body, so it causes scarring and pain. When the #endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts may develop. Endometriosis may also lead to pelvic adhesions, where scar tissue builds up, binding organs together, and causing pain and sometimes infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Heavy, long and very painful periods (#menstrual pain may worsen over time)
- Spotting between periods
- Chronic lower belly or back pain
- Infertility (endometriosis has been found in almost 50% of women who face #infertility problems)
- Pain during intercourse and urination
It’s not clear what causes endometriosis, but it seems to run in families and some researchers believe it is a type of autoimmune condition. Risk factors include:
- Periods lasting more than 7 days
- Never having had kids
- Diet (consumption of red meats and trans fats increases the risk, and leafy greens protect against it)
- Early age menstruation and short monthly cycles (it is believed that prolonged estrogen exposure leads to endometriosis)
- History of pelvic infection
- Age (it often occurs in women between the ages of 25 and 40, but can occur earlier. Symptoms completely cease after menopause)
Endometriosis has no cure, but can be treated in different ways, depending on what stage of endometriosis a patient is at, and whether they are pregnant or interested in becoming pregnant. Treatments include contraceptive pills, hormone suppression therapy and surgery, which can be minor (using laparoscopy to remove cysts or endometrial tissue) or extensive (removing the uterus and ovaries for example if the woman no longer plans to have children).
The symptoms of endometriosis overlap with many of those of other conditions, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Your gynecologist will need to use laparoscopy (insert a small tube with a lens into your abdomen) to determine whether you have endometriosis for sure.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms above or have been having difficulty getting pregnant, contact us on our hotline 1291 to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist. One study found that, on average, it takes 7 years for the diagnosis of endometriosis to be made from when symptoms first appear. Don’t ignore painful, heavy periods or spotting- detecting endometriosis early can help relieve symptoms and reduce the growth of endometrial tissue.