Endometriosis is a gynecological condition wherein the endometrial tissue that grows normally in the uterus, starts to grow outside of it.
This kind of abnormal growth may occur anywhere but usually, it is found in the pelvic region, affecting the fallopian tubes, ovaries, peritoneum, and lymph nodes.
The tissues are not as much a problem as their behavior. The cells in these endometrial tissues respond to the hormonal cycle and shed blood during menstruation.
Since there is no outlet for this blood, it gets trapped inside.
Secondly, it makes the organs stick to each other, causing disorders and pain. For example, it may block the fallopian tubes and affect a woman’s fertility. In rare cases, tissue growth may spread to other parts of the body.
Endometriosis affects 5-10 percent of women of their reproductive age. It
is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are very generalized but controllable with treatment.
Endometriosis is a painful condition, with symptoms similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovarian cyst, or pelvic inflammation. The common symptom of the disorder is pelvic pain, just like in periods.
- Blockage of fallopian tubes or ovary function.
- Extreme menstrual cramps, difficult to control with NSAIDs
- Long-term lower-back and pelvic pain
- Long periods extending to seven days and more.
- Hemorrhagic- extremely heavy menstrual flow requiring changing the pads after every hour or two.
- Bowel and urinary problems including pain, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Inter-period spotting or bleeding
- Traces of blood in urine or stool
- Nausea and vomiting
Although all women experience menstrual cramps, the pain in endometriosis is very intense and severe. Symptoms get eased when hormone levels fall, such as in pregnancy or menopause.
Infertility – The most common risk associated with endometriosis is infertility. 30 percent of females suffering from the condition have problems in conception. IVF provides a solution for endometriosis women to get pregnant.
The tissue growth in fallopian tubes can prevent the egg from reaching the uterus and get fertilized by sperm.
Infertility also may result from damage caused to the egg or sperm cells.
Nevertheless, women with mild or severe endometriosis can become pregnant and deliver a healthy child. Dr. Shivani Bhutani, Infertility, and IVF specialist advises patients to not delay childbirth as the symptoms usually deteriorate with time.
Although low, there is a risk of developing ovarian cancer for those with endometriosis. Another kind of cancer called adenocarcinoma is associated with it too, though less prevalent.
Altogether, the risk of ovarian cancer is pretty low in women, it gets enhanced.
There are several reasons for endometriosis and the resulting abnormal cell growth. Possible causes include:
Retrograde Menstruation- This is a problem with menstrual flow. The blood flow passes into the fallopian tubes and the pelvic area instead of leaving the body in a natural way.
Embryonic cell growth: Sometimes, times, embryonic cells present in the abdomen and pelvis begin to convert into endometrial tissue.
Transformation of peritoneal cells: These are cells that form the inner lining of the abdomen. Hormone and immune conditions transform them into endometrial tissue.
Surgical scar: Movement of endometrial cells may occur during surgical procedures such as a section or hysterectomy.
Endometrial cell transport: Endometrial cells get transported to other portions of the body via the lymphatic system.
Heredity: There may be genetic factors involved. A history of endometriosis in close blood relatives puts you at risk.
Immune system disorder: Immune system disorder can also prevent the descent of extrauterine endometrial tissue growth.
Early detection and diagnosis of endometriosis by skillful experts, followed by treatment results in better management and control.
Eva Hospital’s specialist team first conducts a pelvic exam, Ultrasound, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and Laparoscopic diagnosis to identify the disorder. Dr. Shivani Bhutani says the treatment is aimed at relieving the patient from symptoms and preventing further consequences and risks.
Advanced treatment is available for endometriosis including:
- Hormone therapy
- Medical procedures such as Cauterization, Electrocoagulation, and endometrial Ablation
- Electrosurgery and Laparoscopic surgery
See Your Doctor
Endometriosis is invariably misunderstood for other disorders that cause pelvic pain.
If you notice any signs and symptoms such as those discussed above, see your specialist doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.