Endometriosis is a condition wherein the uterine lining, also called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. The endometrial tissue could grow in places like the ovaries or the fallopian tubes or even other parts of the body like the lungs, in some cases.
The endometrial lining is also shed much like the uterine lining causing menstruation. However, the endometrial lining has no vent outside the body, and instead causes cramps, cysts, and in some cases infertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis
Some of the most commonly experienced symptoms are as follows:
- Heavy and painful menstruation
- Severe pain in the back (lower region), pelvis or the abdominal area.
- Pain during sex and immediately after
- Bleeding that occurs between your periods
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Pain that occurs during urination or bowel movements
Endometriosis also comes with other symptoms like bloating, nausea, fatigue, constipation or diarrhoea. You could also experience tiredness over the long term.
Varies from woman to woman
However the extent and nature of pain varies from woman to woman. Many women who suffer from endometriosis experience pain between the hip and leg region, but its severity and occurrence could vary; some women experience pain only during their menstrual cycle while others feel pain all the while.
The symptoms of endometriosis depend on where it has occurred and not on the extent of endometriosis (the tissue amount).
Also, some women who suffer from endometriosis may not experience any of these symptoms, while some women experience a few of them. The condition could be confused for other medical problems also causing pain in the pelvic area – irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above or have been suffering from infertility, it is pertinent that you see your doctor. Although most women experience pain during their periods, the severity and abnormality of pain should give you an indication that it could be endometriosis. An early diagnosis can help in avoiding further complications or pain.
There are some factors that put you at a risk of developing the condition. They include:
- Pelvic infections in the past
- Abnormalities related to the uterus
- Never having given birth
- A family member or two suffering from endometriosis, could be an aunt, mother or sister.
Treatment could be in the form of medication, hormonal therapy or surgery. However, the mode of treatment depends on the woman's age, how severe her symptoms are, and if she is planning to start a family. Contraceptive pills for women not trying for pregnancy, and hormone treatment for women seeking to be pregnant are used. When medication does not solve the problem, laparoscopy or laparotomy is used to remove the tissue.