The Pain of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue found in the lining of the uterus attaches to organs and other areas outside the uterus. It is thought to occur in 10-20% of women between the ages of 20 and 45. While the cause of endometriosis is still unknown, there is a relationship between hormone estrogen and immune system dysfunctions.
During a women’s menstruation the lining of the uterus bleeds and sheds and is forced out of the uterus by small uterine contractions. Uterine tissue, called endometrium, that is shed makes its way into the pelvic cavity. This is referred to as retrograde menstruation. This displaced tissue may then implant on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and on top of the uterus or its supporting ligaments. Other areas of occurrence are the abdomen, the area between the vagina and rectum, bowel, bladder, vagina, cervix, vulva, and in abdominal surgical scars. In rare circumstances they can be found in the lungs, arms, or thighs.
Women who suffer from endometriosis have been found to have excess levels of estrogen in their system. Studies have proposed that women with excessive levels of estrogen are at higher risk for endometriosis. This is because estrogen stimulates cell growth. Normally, the immune system is able to take care of any endometrial tissue that finds its way in to the pelvic cavity via retrograde menstruation. However, high levels of estrogen counteract the body’s ability to cope with the invading tissue. The immune system is overwhelmed and the implanted tissue grows and flourishes. This tissue will continue to respond to the hormonal cycle, and the shedding and bleeding causes inflammation and scarring.
One difficulty in diagnosing endometriosis is that the symptoms mimic several other medical conditions, such as ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, fibroid tumors, or irritable bowel syndrome. The most common of endometriosis symptoms is pain. However, some women may experience no symptoms at all. Other symptoms include pain in the abdomen and lower back associated with the changes occurring during the menstrual cycle, pain experienced during intercourse, heavy or irregular periods, painful bowel movements and urination, diarrhoea or constipation, fatigue, and general chronic pain at any time. Additionally, endometriosis will cause infertility in 40% of women affected.
Treatment of endometriosis is the subject of some controversy, as the exact causes of the condition are unknown. Some treatments may focus on eliminating or reducing the amount of estrogen a woman’s body produces. Laparoscopy is a common infertility treatment when endometriosis affects a woman’s ability to become pregnant. Less obtrusive treatments suggest changes in diet and exercise routine, thereby strengthening the body’s muscles and immune system which help the body naturally fight the condition.
About the Author:
Eric Daiter has been sponsored by The NJ Center for Reproductive Medicine, a leading provider of infertility treatment, to write information about endometriosis symptoms. For more information, please visit www.infertilitytutorials.com