Endometriosis is a condition where abnormal tissue starts growing outside the womb. In general, the tissue lining the uterus thickens and sheds during the menstrual cycle. However, unlike a typical menses, the tissue has no way to go out of the body and remains in the pelvic area.
In this condition, endometrial-like blood tissue grows in the areas surrounding the uterus. The growth may even travel to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Thus, it poses a risk for women in their 30s and 40s who are trying to get pregnant.
The impact of this condition spans across the country – more than 25 million women in India have endometriosis. Therefore, it only makes sense that women make themselves aware of endometriosis causes and symptoms.
What Causes Endometriosis?
The leading cause of endometriosis is hormonal imbalance. A few other causes for endometriosis include –
- Retrograde Menstruation – Retrograde menstruation is when the menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. The endometrial cells in the blood could start growing abnormally and cause endometriosis.
- Surgical Scar Tissue – Scar tissue in the pelvis area due to a C-section could cause the abnormal endometrial tissue to stick to the internal scars causing it to thicken, resulting in endometriosis.
- Embryonic Cell Transformation – Too much of the hormone estrogen may cause the embryonic cells to transform into endometrial tissue. This tissue could then stick to any part of the pelvic area and thicken to cause endometriosis.
- Immune Disorders – Any kind of immune disorder could impact the body’s ability to recognize and destroy abnormal growth and cause endometriosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
There are several symptoms of endometriosis. The prominent ones are-
- Pelvic Pain – Pelvic pain is one of the most common symptoms of endometriosis. The pain can be extreme, especially during menses. Frequent pain, other than during menses, in the pelvis and lower back, is also quite common.
- Pain During Bowel Movement – The use of pelvic movements during bowel movements could irritate the endometria-like tissue and cause pain during bowel movements.
- Infertility – Endometriosis focused on the ovaries or fallopian tubes reduces the chances of pregnancy as it affects the quality and frequency of egg production.
- Pain During Intercourse – Other than the usual pain during penetration, women with endometriosis sometimes suffer lower back and pelvic pain during and after intercourse also.
- Digestive Issues – Hormonal imbalances usually cause physical discomfort and digestive issues like diarrhea, bloating, constipation, or nausea, especially during menses.
The symptoms must be analyzed as early as possible, as it can give a better chance to treat and manage the symptoms.
Risk Factors Associated With Endometriosis
It is difficult to identify who can develop endometriosis. However, certain parameters make you more susceptible to the condition.
- Starting the menstrual cycle at a young age
- Having a close blood relation who has or has endometriosis
- Short menstrual cycles less than 25 days
- Having a heavy menstrual flow beyond 7 days
- Any abnormal tissues in the reproductive tract
How Is Endometriosis Detected?
The symptoms of endometriosis are quite similar to other conditions like PCOS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), etc. It is crucial to meet a physician to get a proper diagnosis in case the symptoms persist.
- Pelvic Exam – A gynecologist performs a pelvic exam to get an accurate picture of the problem. The exam may be a physical check or a transvaginal ultrasound. These procedures can help doctors identify a cyst or thickening in tissue due to endometriosis.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to gain an accurate image of the internal organs of the body. Abnormal tissue growth can be identified accurately as an MRI provides a detailed look into the internal organs of the body.
- Laparoscopy – A laparoscopy enables the doctor to view endometrial tissue through the abdomen. As the process involves inserting a laparoscope into the abdomen through an incision, the patient is given general anesthesia to numb the pain. The abnormal endometrial tissue growth outside the uterus can be identified through this procedure.
Treatment for Endometriosis
To be clear, researchers have not found a cure for endometriosis. Thus, treatment methodology primarily centers on the idea of pain alleviation and symptom management. Depending on the level of pain, your doctors might prescribe mild or severe pain medications to handle the discomfort.
Contraceptives like birth control pills or implants directly subdue the hormones, leading to a reduction in abnormal tissue buildup. Contraceptives sometimes lead to a lighter menstrual flow, which reduces menstrual cramps.
Many women do not want to get pregnant and only want to treat endometriosis. In this case, your gynecologist or obstetrician will most likely prescribe contraceptives.
Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH) Therapy
Gn-RH agonists block estrogen and egg production and prevent menstruation. These drugs help in shrinking the endometrial abnormal tissue growth. Gn-RH drugs create a feeling of artificial menopause. Once the drugs are stopped, normal reproductive functions like menstruation and egg production restart.
Doctors prescribe GnRH agonists to those patients who want to conceive and become pregnant. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider about risks such as gonadotropin flares.
Progestin is hormonal birth control, which is also used to treat the symptoms of endometriosis. The therapy comes in the form of pills, injections, or IUD. Progestin works similarly to the pregnancy hormone progesterone. It tricks the body into stopping menses until the therapy is discontinued.
The application of progestin therapy cuts down on menstrual pain to some extent. It also helps in alleviating the more worrisome effects of endometriosis.
Surgery is often the last resort, only considered if all other treatment plans are ineffective. Ideally, the operation is done laparoscopically via the abdomen. The procedure entails carefully removing the abnormal tissue growth without harming the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the uterus as a whole.
More broadly, surgery does not stop regrowth of abnormal tissues, and endometriosis can reoccur. With that in mind, patients should regularly monitor their symptoms to prevent a relapse.
Endometriosis does not develop over only one menstrual cycle. It is a long process and causes pain and discomfort throughout its development. Book an appointment with the best doctor in the best hospital for women in Gurgaon. Your medical healthcare provider as soon as possible to prevent complications from arising.