Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition that occurs when endometrial tissues grow outside the uterus. It can result in tissue decomposition, tissue damage inflammation, dysmenorrhea (intense lower abdominal pain just before or during menstruation) etc.
While there is no specific cause of this condition in women, researchers identify a few factors. Some of these factors include genetics, inverse menstruation flow through the fallopian tubes, and hormones as the primary trigger. Some of the places you can find endometrial growth outside the uterus are the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, lungs, intestines, rectum, bladder, vagina, cervix, and vulva.
To identify whether you might be suffering from endometrial growths, here are some common symptoms to look out for:
- Excessive bleeding: While some women occasionally experience heavy period flow, excessive bleeding during or between periods can signify abnormal endometrial growth. Another sign is a sudden increase in cycle days with no reduced flow.
- Painful periods: Yes, slight cramping is normal during periods. However, when they become unbearable and excessive, it might signify an underlying health condition. In addition, even while off their menstrual cycles, some women with endometrial growth outside the uterus may experience intense pain levels in the pelvic region.
- Infertility: Up to 40% of women with the condition suffer infertility.
- Painful Intercourse. Either upon penetration or during sex.
- Painful bowel movements – especially during your menstrual period
- Intestinal pain.
- Digestive health problems. For example: bloating, constipation, and nausea during menstrual cycles.
In diagnosing you, your doctor may request that you perform a pelvic exam, an imaging test, or laparoscopic surgery to enable him to detect any issues.
After diagnosis, treatment can take on the following form:
- Pain medications: Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen, Panadol, or naproxen may be used to minimize mild symptoms
- Hormonal Medications: Hormonal contraceptives are the primary treatment available for endometriosis. They function by decreasing fertility, thus preventing endometrial tissue’s monthly growth and buildup.
For hormonal treatment, a patient may undertake two hormonal treatment options. They are:
- When pregnancy is not a primary goal: Hormonal birth control methods like pills, vaginal rings, shots, etc., may be recommended to patients to help stop bleeding and reduce pain.
- When pregnancy is a primary goal: Your doctor may prescribe a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist to induce temporary menopause and control the spread of the tissues.
The difference between GnRH and the first hormonal control methods is that your cycle returns to normal once you get off GnRH medications.
3. Surgery: Surgeries performed are based on the severity of the patient’s prognosis, and they are:
- Laparoscopy: This is a surgical procedure that allows your surgeon access to your pelvic regions to remove abnormal endometrial tissue or destroy it with a laser.
- Hysterectomy: A less conservative surgery that involves removing your uterus and possibly your cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This surgical method is used only to treat serious cases.
Treatment can help adequately manage endometriosis to allow a pain-free life. It is also essential to immediately contact your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms above.
Till next time,