Why Is It Important To Find Out If I Have Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a potentially painful and debilitating condition that currently affects some 5 million women in the United States. While some with this malady have no symptoms and therefore remain undiagnosed, its unchecked progression can be life-changing.
What Is It?
Endometriosis results when a special kind of tissue call endometrium, normally found only in the uterus, somehow forms in or becomes relocated to some part of the body other than the uterus. Endometrial tissue, even when misplaced, is somewhat unique in that it increases in size and vascularization in response to certain hormones. Endometrial tissues outside of the uterus can cause problems as they bulk up and later shed. Tissue and blood in the uterus can be discarded from the body through the vagina. This isn't the case for the tissue and blood released by endometrial growths within the body cavity. Over time this buildup pushes on other organs, impairing their function and causing severe pain.
Effects of Endometriosis Progression
These tissue implantations most often appear in places like the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, outside of the rectum or colon, or on the walls lining the pelvis. Endometrial growths on the rectum or colon can cause chronic constipation. Most constipation ends in diarrhea as the body struggles to prevent waste build-up. Growths on the pelvic walls can cause back pain or painful bowel movements. It can be painful to urinate if a growth occurs somewhere near the bladder. Most endometriosis patients who experience symptoms have severe pain just before or during menstruation from growths on the fallopian tubes or ovaries.
Blood and tissue that accumulate within the body cause a common immune reaction: inflammation. The cells and proteins of the immune system can be drawn to areas in trouble, reaching these areas through the circulatory system. For cells and proteins to leave the circulatory system, blood vessels surrounding the troubled area are instructed to become leaky. This allows the accumulation of blood, resulting in the swollen, warm, red, and painful experience that is inflammation. Inflammation can create further pressure on organs presenting endometrial growths. Such a chronic immune response requires a lot of energy, resulting frustrating fatigue.
Complications of Endometriosis
While the previously mentioned symptoms may sound bad, there are more ways that endometriosis can cause problems. Endometriosis patients often have an altered vaginal environment which is particularly supportive of yeast growth, resulting in frequent yeast infections. It has also been found that those with ovarian endometrial growths are slightly more at risk for developing epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Why this happens isn't well understood. Endometrial growths on the ovaries could possibly transform in cancer cells. Or it may be that the genetic and environmental factors responsible for the development of endometriosis also puts one at risk for developing EOC. A very common repercussion of endometriosis is sterility, which may the result of blocked fallopian tubes or dysfunctional ovaries.
Preventing the Harmful Effects of Endometriosis
There is currently no way to completely prevent the development of endometriosis as we still don't understand why it develops in the first place. What we can do, however, is control its growth with the aid of contraceptives and/or surgically remove dangerous growths. If endometriosis is diagnosed early in its progression, much pain and discomfort can be avoided.
http://www.4women.gov/faq/endomet.htm#d http://killercramps.org/endo.html http://www.medicinenet.com/endometriosis/page3.htm http://www.endo-resolved.com/fatigue-article.html