From breast cancer to vaginal infections, women have a host of diseases to watch out for. Endometriosis is just one in the long list of many that affects more women than you imagined.
Endometriosis. A disorder of the uterus that can cause immense pain. As if we women don't have enough pain. But it's good to be aware of the disorder to prevent it, or at least treat it before it's too late. So here are some questions that you might have about the disease.
It is a disease that occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus starts to grow outside your uterus. That includes parts like your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even your pelvis.
According to Medical News Today, this disorder which occurs during your menstrual cycle, causes displaced endometrial tissue to thicken, breaks down, and bleed. However, since there is nowhere for the tissue to go, it gets trapped.
As a result of it having no place to exit the body, the surrounding tissue can become irritated. This can lead to eventual scar tissue formation and abnormal bands of fibrous tissue, which can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other, says Mayo Clinic. So not only do you have to deal with period cramps, you get to deal with this pain too.
Endometriosis.org states that the disease affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world. It can even start as early as a girl's first period.
For many women, there are no symptoms that make themselves known. It is also why this disease is one of the three most misdiagnosed conditions for women. However, for those that do experience the symptoms, they include:
- Painful periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain during urination or bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding
For one thing, your fertility can take a hit. It can also increase your risk of suffering from ovarian cancer.
According to Medicine Net, the disorder can be classified into 4 stages based on certain factors like location, extent, presence of scar tissue and severity of the same:
I - minimal and II - mild wherein there is mild scarring and it's only on the superficial level.
III - moderate and IV - severe wherein cysts are formed and there is more severe scarring.
Infertility is most common during stage IV endometriosis.
Mayo Clinic cites these as factors that can increase your chances of suffering from the condition:
- Never giving birth
- Starting your period at an early age
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycles
- Heavy menstrual periods that last longer than seven days
- Genetics (if your female relatives are diagnosed with it)
- Any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body
When you visit the doctor, they will use these methods to find out whether you have endometriosis:
- Pelvic exam - During the exam, your doctor will manually feel areas inside your pelvis for any abnormalities.
- Ultrasound - Using high-frequency sound waves, they will create images of the inside of your body to check for cysts or scars.
- MRI - They will use this device to create detailed images of your organs and tissues.
- Laparoscopy - In this method, your doctor will recommend a surgeon who will create a tiny incision near your navel. Then a slender viewing instrument (laparoscope) will be inserted to look for signs of endometrial tissues outside the uterus.
Thankfully, endometriosis can be treated (you can breathe a sigh of relief). The methods include using pain medications, hormone therapy, surgery, and fertility treatment. However, all treatments will have to be prescribed by your doctor.
Due to the fact that there is no cause that can be pinpointed, there are no known ways to prevent the disease yet. Research is yet to find a cause.