Endometriosis Signs & Symptoms, Treatment: Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system in which the cells which are similar to endometrium grow outside the uterus. This growth can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissue around the uterus and even in other parts of the body. This tissue functions similar to the endometrium and bleeds each month during the menstrual period leading to extreme pain and scarring.
This can lead to severe discomfort, cramps, nausea, vomiting, back pain, pain during bowel movements, pelvic pain and infertility. The exact cause of the disease is not known but it can be inherited. Endometriosis can be diagnosed by medical imaging and biopsy of the tissue.
This condition is often misdiagnosed and the patients receive a diagnosis at least after 6 years of onset of the symptoms. There is no cure for the disease but it is treated through symptomatic management.
Endometriosis is a serious condition which can affect anyone after they have reached their puberty. This disease is characterised by the growth of endometrium like cells outside the uterus.
These cells are also affected by the changes in your hormones during the menstrual cycle. This layer also thickens and proliferates during your menstrual cycle and sheds during your periods. This can lead to inflammation and scarring of the tissues. It is most commonly seen in women who are in their twenties and thirties but it can begin at any age.
However it can take several years before the patient receives a diagnosis as the symptoms of the condition can be misinterpreted as normal periods. The article given below will give you an idea regarding the disease, its symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnostic methods, treatment and prevention of the condition.
Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis
The first symptom of Endometriosis is recurring pelvic pain. It causes painful cramps and excessive bleeding during periods. Some of the common signs and Symptoms of the disease are given below.
- Dysmenorrhoea- This refers to irregular and extremely painful periods.
- Dyspareunia- This refers to pain during sexual intercourse.
- Chronic and recurring pelvic pain- Patient will experience chronic pelvic pain which comes back every time they have their periods
- Dysuria- This refers to pain during urination.
- Mittelschmerz- This refers to pain due to ovulation.
- Pain due to movement- The patient can experience pain during various movements such as walking, running or exercise.
- Infertility- The patient will also experience infertility if their condition is not treated in time.
- Ovarian cancer- This can also occur in patients who have untreated endometriosis for long durations if time.
Causes of Endometriosis
Though the exact cause of the condition is not known, it can occur due to various reasons which are given below.
- Retrograde menstruation- This is a condition in which the menstrual blood flows back into the fallopian tubes instead of coming out through the vagina. This condition can cause endometriosis in the fallopian tubes.
- Changes in the peritoneal cells- Peritoneal cells are the ones lining the pelvic region of your body. If these cells transform into endometrial cells due to hormone changes or immunity of the person then it can cause endometriosis in the person.
- Surgical scar- In some cases, the cells in the menstrual blood can adhere to the scar of the surgery of C-section and can lead to endometriosis.
- Endometrial cell transfer- In rare cases, the endometrial cells can enter the bloodstream and can transfer to different parts of the body leading to the development of Endometriosis in these parts.
- Immune system disorder- An immune system disorder can make it difficult for the body to recognise foreign growth in other parts of the body.
Risk Factors of Endometriosis
There are many risk factors that promote the growth of endometrium like cells in other parts of the body. These factors are as follows.
- Genetics- If one of your family members has endometriosis then you are also at rish of developing it.
- Early menstruation- People who have their periods at an early age are also at risk of developing Endometriosis.
- Not being pregnant- A person who has not had a child is more at risk than those who have had at least one child.
- Hormonal changes- Having too much oestrogen in your bloodstream also increases your chances of developing it.
- Underweight- Underweight women are also more at risk of developing it than women with normal weights.
- Shorter menstrual cycles with longer periods- If you have menstrual cycles of less than 27 days and your periods last longer than 7 days then you are more susceptible to Endometriosis.
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
Diagnosis of Endometriosis can be made through a number of tests. Your doctor will perform the following tests to confirm your diagnosis.
- Pelvic exam- Your doctor will conduct a physical pelvic exam in order to determine that all the structures in your pelvic floor are in normal shape and position. They will also look for cysts or scars around your reproductive system.
- Ultrasound- An ultrasound will show whether there is any abnormal growth or cysts around your reproductive organs.
- MRI scans- An MRI scan will show more detailed images of your reproductive system and will help to pinpoint the exact location of the cysts. It can help your doctor to plan your treatment accordingly.
- Biopsy- A biopsy of your endometrial tissue is a sure shot diagnostic procedure for endometriosis. It can confirm the diagnosis thus allowing the patient to receive the proper treatment.
- Laparoscopy- It is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure which enables the doctor to take a look at the internal structures of the reproductive system. This can give your doctor an idea regarding the extent of the growth, its size and its location.
Treatment of Endometriosis
Endometriosis does not have a cure but it can be treated so that the patient can manage their symptoms. The following treatment interventions may be used in order to manage the condition.
- Painkillers- The first treatment method is to prescribe painkillers to the patient in order to provide them some relief from the severe pain which occurs in this condition. NSAIDs are the common drugs which are used for this purpose.
- Hormone therapy- Hormone therapy may also be prescribed to the patient. These are usually effective in reducing the pain and other symptoms of the patient. This can also slow down the growth of the endometrial tissue and prevent further implantation of it.
- Surgical treatment- Surgical treatment may also be used in order to treat Endometriosis. This can include surgical removal of the endometrial tissue, hysterectomy and removal of ovaries. This can prevent the condition from growing further in your body.
- Fertility treatment- Infertility is a common result of Endometriosis and can be treated through medications or hormonal interventions.
- Oral contraceptives- Oral contraceptives can be effective in slowing down the growth of the endometrial tissue. This can also lead to shorter menstrual cycles and lighter periods.
The use of oral contraceptives can also prevent the onset of Endometriosis in some cases.
FAQs Related to Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive system in which the cells which are similar to endometrium grow outside the uterus. This growth can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissue around the uterus and even in other parts of the body.
Endometriosis can lead to severe discomfort, cramps, nausea, vomiting, back pain, pain during bowel movements, pelvic pain and infertility.
No, there is no cure for Endometriosis however some treatment methods are available to control its spread and symptoms in the patients.