What Can Raise My Chances Of Getting Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful reality for more than 5 million American women. Endometriosis results when endometrial tissue takes root and reacts in places other than the uterus, causing internal bleeding as well as a build up of pressure. Those with endometriosis suffer from severe cramps, bleeding, and often infertility. While its underlying cause is poorly understood, there are several factors known to be related to the development of endometriosis.
Fundamentals of Endometriosis
Endometrial tissue, like many other tissues, responds to hormones. It usually exists only in the uterus, where it increases in size and vascularization once a month as part of the menstrual cycle. Sometimes, for several reasons, endometrial cells are mobilized and implant themselves in places outside of the uterus, where they continue to respond to hormones. The periodic buildup and breakdown of endometrial tissue within the uterus is normal, where blood and tissue can be excreted through the vagina. Unfortunately, when this occurs in places other then the uterus, the blood and tissue has no where to exit and builds up over time.
Why Do Endometrial Cells Appear in Other Places?
There are several theories. The Retrograde Menstruation Theory postulates that endometrial tissue within the uterus accumulates so much that it becomes backed up into the fallopian tubes and ovaries, where it is less likely to be removed during a woman's period. Another theory suggests that some cells lining the pelvic organs have the ability to differentiate into endometrial cells - which is not entirely unlikely since stem cells also have this ability. Sometimes endometrial tissue is found in stranger locations like the brain. It is believed such relocations are probably the result of an abdominal surgery, where a piece of endometrial tissue from the pelvis was detached and transported throughout the body via the bloodstream where it eventually settled in the brain.
Risks for Developing Endometriosis
There are several risk factors for developing endometriosis, some avoidable and others not. Women who had their first period at an early age, have heavy periods, a short monthly cycle (less than 27 days), or periods lasting longer than 7 days likely have very active menstrual hormones or highly sensitive endometrial tissue, making them more at-risk to develop endometriosis. Endometriosis also seems to have a genetic connection, where those with a mother or aunt with endometriosis are much more likely to develop it themselves. Being Caucasian, as opposed to Asian or African, also seems to increase the chances of developing the condition. Another surprising risk factor was recently discovered when the Endometriosis Associated noticed that nearly 80% of rhesus monkeys exposed to dioxin developed endometriosis, with its severity coinciding in a dose-dependent manner. Dioxin is a chemical byproduct of bleached pulp and paper products, pesticide products, and medical and municipal waste incineration.
Preventing the Advancement of Endometriosis
Knowing the risks for developing endometriosis can help you to earlier identify and treat this potentially debilitating condition. While its initial appearance isn't always avoidable, the painful progression of endometriosis isn't inevitable. Browse through our other articles for information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis.
Sources: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/endometriosis/ http://www.4women.gov/faq/endomet.htm#d http://killercramps.org/endo.html http://www.medicinenet.com/endometriosis/article.htm#tocc