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A Look at Endometriosis

By Rishitha Giri

Highlights

  • What is endometriosis?

  • Who can get it and what issues come with it.

  • Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Introduction

Reproduction is a common part of life; it is how all of us are here right now. However, endometriosis, which is a condition in which cells similar to the material lining the uterus, or endometrium, grows outside of the uterus, can make pregnancy a challenge for many women. This disorder is not a popular one amongst women, as it can be very painful in many ways and challenging to live with, as well as possibly leading to infertility. However, in most cases, the chance of a woman getting endometriosis is not in her hands, as it can come from various factors such as genetics and even the age a female gets her first period.


Understanding Symptoms and Causes


Endometriosis displays many rough symptoms that may make your insides feel like they are in the midst of an explosion. But why does this pain happen? Well, for starters, a period occurs when the ovaries release the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. When these hormones are released, the uterus starts to develop a lining that adds protection in case the egg is fertilized. However, endometriosis is the opposite, and forms the lining on the outside. This causes swelling and pain because the bleeding occurs in an area where it cannot easily escape the body like the uterus was meant to do.


Endometriosis can occur in any woman that has a menstrual period, but girls that got it before 11-years old or women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to have it. There are also other ways you can have endometriosis, like if you have never had children, a very short or very long cycle, or a health problem that makes it difficult for your body to pass menstrual blood. It can also be genetic, if a female in your family has had the disease in the past. Some sensations that may encourage one to check if they have endometriosis are painful periods and intercourse, fluctuations in bowel movement, burning sensation during urination, bloating, nausea, constantly feeling tired, and arising mental health issues.


Diagnoses, Treatment, and Prevention

If one feels any symptoms of endometriosis at all, a check up with a doctor will suffice and give clear answers. Some ways doctors can identify a case of endometriosis is through a pelvic exam, imaging test, medicine such as hormonal birth control, and a laparoscopy, which is a surgery that enables doctors to be able to look inside your pelvic area to observe the tissue. Surgery is the only way doctors can be sure that you have endometriosis; sometimes the doctor can confirm if they just see an abnormal growth outside the uterus, or they may have to take a sample of some of this lonely tissue and have a closer look.


Unfortunately, there is no automatic cure for endometriosis, but there are several medicines and treatments that may be suggested by doctors. In terms of medicine, the most common kind of treatment is hormonal birth control or hormonal IUDs which aid in giving you a more regular and calmer flow when you are not trying to get pregnant. However, the issue with these methods is that it is not guaranteed that they will work for a long time. If you are trying to conceive, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone may be the best option for you as it stops the hormones that give you a monthly period from being released, so the tissue that is growing on the outside of the uterus won’t grow either, or the growth will at least be controlled. If one has severe symptoms, they may have to undergo a surgery to remove the areas taken over by endometriosis, and this is commonly paired with a method of hormonal medicine. Just like many other conditions, pain medicine and a healthy diet is highly suggested to keep further problems to a minimum.


Endometriosis cannot be prevented. This may sound scary since having endometriosis sounds like a nightmare, but there are certain habits that you can perform in your daily life to help you reduce your chances of having the condition and lower the levels of estrogen in you body, which is responsible for thickening the lining of your uterus during a period. These healthy habits include exercising regularly to keep a low body fat percentage, avoiding large amounts or regular alcohol, and avoiding large amounts or regular consumption of caffeine.


References

“Endometriosis.” Cleveland Clinic, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10857-endometriosis.

“Endometriosis.” Endometriosis | Office on Women's Health, https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis.

“Endometriosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 July 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656.

Endometriosis, World Health Organization, 31 Mar. 2021, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis.

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