Endometriosis is a common, yet poorly understood disease. It can strike women of any socioeconomic class, age, or race. It’s estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of American women of childbearing age have endometriosis.
Although some women with endometriosis may have severe pelvic pain, others who have the condition have no symptoms. Nothing about endometriosis is easy, and you can find no absolute cures. The disease can affect a woman’s whole existence–her capability to work, her ability to reproduce, and her relationships with her mate, her child, and everyone around her.
What is Endometriosis?
The name endometriosis comes from the word “endometrium,” the tissue that lines the within of the uterus. In case a woman isn’t pregnant, this tissue accumulates and is shed every month. It is discharged as menstrual flow at the end of every cycle. In endometriosis, tissue that looks and acts like endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus, usually in the abdominal cavity. Endometrial tissue residing beyond your uterus responds to the menstrual cycle in a way that is comparable to just how endometrium usually responds in the uterus.
At the end of each cycle, when hormones cause the uterus to shed its endometrial lining, endometrial tissue growing beyond your uterus will break apart and bleed. However, unlike menstrual fluid from the uterus, which is discharged from your body during menstruation, blood from the misplaced uterus does not have any spot to go. Tissues surrounding the region of endometriosis could become inflamed or swollen. The inflammation may produce scar tissue formation around the area of endometriosis. These endometrial tissue sites may become what are called “lesions,” “implants,” “nodules,” or “growths.”
Endometriosis is most often found in the ovaries, on the fallopian tubes, and the ligaments supporting the uterus, in the inner area between the vagina and rectum, on the outer surface of the uterus, and on the lining of the pelvic cavity. Infrequently, endometrial growths are located on the intestines or in the rectum, on the bladder, vagina cervix, and vulva (external genitals), or in abdominal surgery scars, Very rarely, endometrial growths have been found outside the abdomen, in the thigh, arm, or lung.
Physicians may use stages to describe the severe nature of endometriosis. Endometrial implants that are small and not widespread are considered minimal or mild endometriosis. Moderate endometriosis implies that larger implants or even more extensive scar tissue exists. Severe endometriosis is used to spell it out large implants and extensive scar tissue.
What are the Symptoms?
Most commonly, the symptoms of endometriosis start years after menstrual periods begin. Through the years, the symptoms have a tendency to gradually increase as the endometriosis areas upsurge in size. After menopause, the abnormal implants shrink away and the outward symptoms subside. The most frequent symptom is pain, specially excessive menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) which might be felt in the abdomen or spine or pain during or after sexual activity (dyspareunia). Infertility occurs in about 30-40 percent of women with endometriosis.
Rarely, the irritation caused by endometrial implants may progress into infection or abscesses causing pain in addition to the menstrual cycle.
Endometrial patches may also be tender to the touch or pressure, the intestinal pain may also result from endometrial patches on the walls of the colon or intestine. The quantity of pain is not always related to the severity of the condition. Some women with severe endometriosis have no pain; while others with only a few small growths have incapacitating pain.
Endometrial cancer is quite rarely connected with endometriosis, occurring in under 1 percent of women who have the disease. When it can occur, it is usually within more advanced patches of endometriosis in older women and the long-term outlook in these unusual cases is fairly good.
How is Endometriosis Linked to Fertility Problems?
Severe endometriosis with extensive scarring and organ damage may affect fertility. It is considered among the three major causes of female infertility.
However, unsuspected or mild endometriosis is a common finding among infertile women. How this type of endometriosis affects fertility continues to be not clear.
While the pregnancy rates for patients with endometriosis remain less than those of the general population, most patients with endometriosis usually do not experience fertility problems. We don’t have a clear understanding of the cause-effect relationship of endometriosis and infertility
What is the Cause of Endometriosis?
The cause of endometriosis is still unknown. What causes endometriosis? is that during menstruation a number of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen, where it implants and grows. Another theory shows that endometriosis can be a genetic process or that certain families may have predisposing factors to endometriosis. In the latter view, endometriosis sometimes appears because the tissue development process gone awry.
According to the theory of traditional chinese medicine, endometriosis is a disease which is due to the stagnation of blood. Blood stagnation might occur due to a number of abortions or lower abdominal or pelvic surgeries.
Additionally, engaging in sexual intercourse during menstruation may very likely over time result in blood stagnation. Emotional trauma, severe stress, physical or emotional abuse can all result in the stagnation of blood.
Additionally, diet can be a precipitating factor. The constant, long term ingestion of cold foods can congeal blood and therefore donate to the stagnation thereof. Cold foods include raw vegetable, ices, ice cream, ice in drinks, frozen yogurt, etc. Remember, cold congeals. Consider what happens to a standard glass of water when put in the freezer. It turns to ice.
The blood is affected similarly. In other words, it congeals, doesn’t flow smoothly and can form endometrial adhesions, chocolate cysts, uterine fibroids. Whatever the reason behind endometriosis, its progression is influenced by various stimulating factors such as for example hormones or growth factors. In this regard, investigators are studying the role of the disease fighting capability in activating cells which could secrete factors which, subsequently, stimulate endometriosis.
Besides these new hypotheses, investigators are continuing to check into previous theories that endometriosis is really a disease influenced by delaying childbearing. Since the hormones created by the placenta during pregnancy prevent ovulation, the progress of endometriosis is slowed or stopped during pregnancy and the full total number of lifetime cycles is reduced for a female who had multiple pregnancies.
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of endometriosis begins with a gynecologist evaluating the patient’s medical history. A whole physical exam, including a pelvic examination, is also necessary. However, diagnosis of endometriosis is only complete when proven by a laparoscopy, a minor medical procedure in which a laparoscope (a tube with a light inside it) is inserted into a small precise incision in the abdomen.
The laparoscope is moved round the abdomen, which has been distended with skin tightening and gas to make the organs easier to see. The surgeon can then check the health of the abdominal organs and see the endometrial implants. The laparoscopy will show the locations, extent, and size of the growths and can help the individual and her doctor make better-informed decisions about treatment. Endometriosis is really a long-standing disease that often develops slowly.
What is the Treatment?
While the treatment for endometriosis has varied through the years, doctors now agree that if the symptoms are mild, no further treatment other than medication for pain may be needed. Endometriosis is really a progressive disorder.
It is my opinion that by not treating endometriosis it’ll get worse. Treatment should soon after a positive diagnosis is made. The pain associated with endometriosis can be diminished through the use of acupuncture and herbal medicine. I’ve treated a lot of women with endometriosis and also have successfully alleviated pain and slowed up growth and recurrence of endometriosis.
For all those patients with mild or minimal endometriosis who wish to get pregnant, doctors are advising that, based on the age of the individual and the amount of pain linked to the disease, the best course of action is to have a trial amount of unprotected intercourse for six months to 1 1 year. If pregnancy will not occur within that time, then further treatment could be needed. Again, these patients should consider herbal medicine to aid in the process of conception.