What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium, a tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, also grows outside of the uterus. The endometrium, during your menstrual cycle, thickens to get ready for the egg. If the egg is fertilized, it will attach to the endometrium and begin to grow. If the egg is not fertilized, the endometrium breaks down and is flushed from your body as blood (your period). If you have endometriosis when this happens, the tissue outside the uterus, called implants, breaks down but cannot leave the body. The implants become irritated and painful, and can form scar tissue and cysts . This may make it difficult to become pregnant.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Pain - Including severe cramps, back ache, rectal pain, pain during sex and pain during bowel movements.
- Bleeding - Including bleeding after sex, premenstrual spotting (bleeding before the period) and blood in the urine or stool.
- Infertility - Often this is how women find out they have endometriosis. Twenty to forty percent of infertile women have endometriosis.
How Long Does the Pain Last?
Some women experience pain just before their period. This pain usually goes away with the cycle. Others experience pain constantly and the menstrual cycle does not relieve it. Pain is caused by the location of the implant and how deep in the tissue it is buried. Size does not matter as much.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Doctors aren't sure what causes endometriosis. They do know that estrogen, the female hormone, makes it worse. Women of childbearing age, from their teens to the forties, are most likely to get endometriosis. After menopause, estrogen levels drop and symptoms are relieved. Certain risks include being between the age of puberty and menopause, family history (heredity ), short menstrual cycles, long menstrual flow, early menstruation and an abnormal structure of the uterus, cervix or vagina.
Is There A Cure?
There is no cure for endometriosis. There are treatment options to explore. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can relieve bleeding and pain. Birth control pills help ease pain and shrink implants. However they cannot be used if a woman wants to become pregnant. Hormone therapy stops your period and shrinks implants, but it has some side effects and pain may come back when treatment stops. Laparoscopy is a minor surgery performed to remove implants and scar tissue. This method may be the most thorough and effective.