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What Are The Risks Of Endometriosis? — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 4, 2009 at 12:54 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What Are The Risks Of Endometriosis?


Endometriosis is an often painful condition of the female reproductive system that can affect women of childbearing age. Often there are no serious risks of endometriosis, but in some cases it can cause serious health problems.

What is Endometriosis?

During menstruation, the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, thickens to prepare for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, pregnancy doesn't happen and the egg is flushed from the body along with the uterine lining. This is your period. In women with endometriosis, endometrial tissue can be found outside of the uterus in other parts of the body. It is usually found on the fallopian tubes, ovaries or pelvis. Very rarely is it located in other parts of the body such as the lungs or kidneys. When this tissue outside of your uterus breaks down, there's nowhere for it to go and it becomes trapped in your body. The trapped tissue can irritate the area and cause cysts, scar tissue and adhesions. These are what cause the pain usually associated with your period.

Besides Genetics, What are the Risk Factors of Endometriosis?

Apart from family history, there are other factors that may increase your likelihood of having endometriosis. These include:

  • Being of childbearing age, or between menstruation and menopause. Girls nearing puberty are also at risk.
  • Shortened menstrual cycles of less than twenty eight days.
  • Menstrual flow of longer than seven days.
  • Less than two full term pregnancies or never being pregnant.
  • Having an abnormal structure of the uterus, cervix or vagina which interrupts menstrual flow.
  • Having a medical problem that obstructs normal passage of menstrual flow.
  • Damage to the uterus lining from a previous infection may lead to endometriosis.

What are Some Complications of Endometriosis?

Studies disagree on some complications of endometriosis. Some say women with endometriosis have a higher risk of having ovarian cancer after the age of sixty. Other studies say there is a chance of having cancerous tissue in the endometrial implants, the risk isn't any higher of having cancerous tissue elsewhere in the body. The most common complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. Women with mild to moderate endometriosis may have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women without. Studies have shown that twenty to forty percent of infertile women have endometriosis. Commonly, women with endometriosis develop a cyst on the ovary, called ovarian endometrioma. These cysts can vary in size from one millimeter to over ten centimeters. Large cysts are usually surgically removed, but may not cause any specific symptoms. Large cysts can be felt by your doctor.

How Can I Relive Painful Symptoms of Endometriosis?

There are a number ways to relieve the pain caused by endometriosis, and they are similar to the ways women can relieve cramping caused by menstruation. Because there is no cure for endometriosis relieving symptoms is very important in dealing with this condition. Over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen can reduce pain, but should not be taken for more than a few days at a time as they can cause stomach problems. A simple heating pad over the painful area will ease cramping and pain. Deep breathing during the pain can also help you cope. Birth control hormones in all forms are the safest medication used to relieve symptoms because they stop the monthly ovulation cycle, which is when endometriosis can be the most painful. Other hormone therapies often have negative side effects and aren't as safe as birth control hormones. If you have severe endometriosis, your doctor may prescribe surgery as a means of reducing pain. Surgery can locate and remove the endometriosis implants and scar tissue, and removes cysts if they are present as well. For very severe endometriosis, your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy . However, due to the variety of serious complications, this should only be as a last resort.

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