How Can I Prevent a Hysterectomy When I Have Endometriosis?
Up to fifteen percent of all women of childbearing age in the United States struggle with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a gynecological condition in which growths of endometrial tissue, the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, appear in other locations. Endometrial patches are commonly found on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder, but it can appear anywhere in the body. Endometrial tissue is under hormonal control. It grows and thickens during ovulation to prepare the uterus to receive and support a fertilized ovum and then, when this doesn't happen, sloughs off and flows out as menstrual blood. Endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus is still responsive to these hormonal commands. It still grows and bleeds on a monthly basis. However, this blood has nowhere to go. Instead it pools and stagnates. This old blood can cause inflammation in the surrounding tissues and, depending on location, can cause cysts to form. The symptoms of endometriosis vary. Some women don't notice anything wrong at all, whereas others suffer with pain, bloody urine, and infertility. Treatments for endometriosis vary depending on the degree of damage and symptoms. Many women fear that a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) may be necessary, but in fact, this is only used as a last resort, and there are a lot of other options to explore before considering such a drastic step.
Treatment Options for Endometriosis
Endometriosis is very responsive to hormone treatment. In fact, some doctors argue that if the condition does not improve with hormone treatment, it is not endometriosis but something else that is causing the problems. Many women are helped by taking a generic birth control pill. Symptoms gradually get better the longer a woman stays on the pill. Some women find that staying on active hormone pills continually, instead of taking placebos for one week of four as most women do, can be even more effective. In some cases, more forceful hormonal manipulation may be required. A type of drugs known as gonadotropin-releasing agonists and antagonists block the brain's production of the hormones that signal the ovaries to ovulate. Without the hormonal signals from the ovaries, endometrial tissue lies dormant. Following a treatment regimen with these drugs, the endometriosis can go into remission for months or even years.
Natural Health Through Nutrition
Some people prefer not to resort to prescription drugs unless they must. Fortunately, several studies have indicated that adequate nutritional intake can improve endometriosis symptoms in many women. Taking a multivitamin and mineral, combined with special supplements for the B vitamins, essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamins E, magnesium, and vitamin C is an especially effective treatment regimen. The B vitamins help reduce excess estrogen, as well as indirectly assisting in the production of prostaglandins, a group of chemicals that help the muscles of the womb relax and also have anti-inflammatory properties. Fatty acids are the precursors of prostaglandins and are thus necessary for their production. Zinc helps the body metabolize fatty acids and get maximum use out of them. Vitamin E and magnesium help relieve menstrual cramps which are often worse in women with endometriosis. Vitamin C is essential to immune function. When the immune system is working at optimum levels, it is able to identify and destroy many of the extra-uterine endometrial tissues.
When to Consider a Hysterectomy
If nothing else works, a hysterectomy, combined with an oopherectomy (removal of the ovaries) may be necessary. This surgery will stop the endometriosis, but it also means infertility and early menopause. If you are considering a hysterectomy, make sure to first explore all your options. Many institutions offer preservative surgeries. Here, the goal is to cut out all patches of abnormal endometrial tissue without damaging the reproductive organs. Depending on the location of the patches of endometrial tissue, the success rate can be quite high.
Sources: http://www.marilynglenville.com/general/endometriosis.htm http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometriosis