When the cells of the uterus start growing in other normal tissues outside the uterus, it is known as endometriosis. This condition can lead to severe pain, especially during periods. Apart from being painful, it can interfere with pregnancy, by blocking fallopian tubes or damaging the eggs. Adequate and effective treatment can help relieve endometriosis symptoms and prevent complications.
Endometriosis means the tissue of inner lining of uterus is growing outside the uterus. As the inner lining of uterus is called endometrium, this condition is known as endometriosis.
This endometrium can grow anywhere, on the ovaries, walls of pelvis or even on the large bowel. During the monthly menstrual cycle, each menstrual phase affects this endometrial tissue along with the normal endometrial tissue in the uterus. This leads to inflammation and pain. This tissue behaves just like the normal uterus endometrium; that means it grows, becomes thick and breaks down causing bleeding.
The exact reason of endometriosis is not known but there are many theories about the cause of endometriosis.
Possible endometriosis causes include:
The main symptom of endometriosis is pain in pelvic region, usually along with the monthly period. Although some pain is felt with regular menses too, the endometriosis pain is much severe and worse.
Other endometriosis symptoms include:
Severity of symptoms and disease is based on its stages.
Sometimes symptoms of endometriosis may mimic other conditions like an ovarian cyst or polycystic ovary syndrome, endometrial cyst, fibroid tumor and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Endometriosis symptoms may mimic other gynaecological conditions, thus a careful history and pelvic examination is essential for endometriosis diagnosis.
Apart from a direct pelvic examination, an ultrasound through the vagina (transvaginal ultrasound) can help in identifying endometriosis. But a confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis is possible only through a laparoscopy, in which a scope is inserted inside the pelvic area and tissues are viewed directly using that camera attached to the scope. Small amount of tissue is picked up and endometrial biopsy is performed, which is the confirmatory test.
Endometriosis treatment includes oral medicines or surgery. The decision of treatment depends on the severity of symptoms and family planning.
Oral medications include:
Surgical options are purely dependent on whether you are trying to become pregnant. If you wish for a pregnancy in the future, then surgery purely focuses on removing the endometriosis implants and the reproductive organs are all preserved. This conservative surgery helps in reducing the pain. In case you have completed your family or have no desire to be pregnant in the future, or if you have severe endometriosis, hysterectomy (removal of uterus with or without ovaries) can be performed.
Endometriosis natural treatment that can help includes lifestyle changes i.e. regular exercising helps in improving symptoms, warm bath or heat bags can relax pelvic muscles and reduces cramps and pains while some of the over-the-counter pain-relievers can help you to cope with pain.
Talk to your gynaecologist about what is the best strategy to deal with your situation based on your lifestyle and preferences.
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