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Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment



Living with endometriosis might feel like you are in a constant, every day battle with your uterus. This painful condition affects women all over the world with unbearable periods and even sexual intercourse. According to the Office of Women’s Health, at least 11 percent or more than 6 million women in the United States suffer with endometriosis in their lifetime. Endometriosis can feel debilitating, however, there are treatment options and other ways to cope with this disease. 


What is endometriosis? Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue inside of the uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus (endometrium). This endometrial tissue affects the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the tissue that lines your pelvis. When endometrial tissue thickens and breaks down during menstrual cycles, it has no way of exiting the body. When this tissue becomes trapped, it collects and endometriomas cysts can form. The healthy tissue that surrounds the area becomes affected and develops scar tissue and adhesions over time. 


Causes


There is no particular cause of endometriosis, although, there are a number of speculations of why this tissue may grow and travel to other areas of the reproductive system. Complicated periods may cause some of the tissue shed from menstruation to travel from the fallopian tubes to the pelvis. Women may have a chance of inheriting this disease in their genes if endometriosis runs in the family. Immune systems that have been compromised from other diseases can fail to find and fight endometrial tissue that grows outside of the uterus. 


Additionally, there is a chance endometriosis can develop after surgery in the abdominal region. According to the Mayo Clinic, endometrial tissue can unintentionally be moved around during surgeries such as c-sections and hysterectomies. After surgery, this tissue is known to be found in abdominal scars. 


Symptoms 


Many women who suffer from endometriosis are unaware that they have it. Here are some warning signs and symptoms to look out for. 


Symptoms of endometriosis include:


  • Stabbing pains during menstruation, ovulation and intercourse

  • Painful urination and bowel movements 

  • Excessive bleeding during and in between menstrual cycles 

  • Nausea, constipation, indigestion and fatigue

  • Infertility


Treatment 


Treatment options for endometriosis include either surgery or hormone medication. Sometimes simple pain medication can suffice for those women that don’t have severe uterine damage from endometriosis. Hormone therapies used to treat this disease include aromatase inhibitors, Gonadotropin-releasing hormone, progestin therapy or taking hormonal contraceptives. These therapies are known for lowering the amount of estrogen in the body and slowing periods. Conservative surgery is an option that includes removing endometriosis implants while preserving the uterus and ovaries. This surgery is recommended if you are trying to become pregnant in the future. 


There are some natural ways to cope with endometriosis in your everyday life such as:


  • Getting pelvic massages

  • Taking turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties 

  • Incorporating light exercise 

  • Making dietary changes in gluten, diary, processed foods and sugars

  • Using heat relief from heating pads and hot baths


Please consult with your doctor to see what treatment options are best suitable for you.



Featured photo by Shutterstock



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