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Endometriosis: What You Need to Know About It
Endometriosis is a disease where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
It is a chronic condition.
It causes pain and/or infertility.
Endometriosis affects women.
At present, there is no known cure for endometriosis.
Treatment is usually aimed at controlling or managing symptoms.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease where tissue related to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. When tissues of the kind that normally line the uterus are found somewhere else, such as on the ovaries, on the bladder, on the bowels, or on the uterus, such a condition is known as endometriosis. The uterus is the place where a baby grows during pregnancy. It is also known as the womb of a woman.
Endometriosis is a chronic and long-term condition that affects women globally from their menarche (first period) through menopause.
Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is yet to be discovered, but experts have thought it to arise due to:
- Retrograde menstruation occurs when menstrual blood flows back into the fallopian tubes and the pelvic cavity at the same time blood is flowing through the cervix and vagina out of the body during periods. (see Retrograde ejaculation article link). This retrograde menstruation can lead to the growth of tissue related to the lining of the uterus outside the uterus.
- Cellular metaplasia occurs when cells change from one form to another. In other words, the cells outside the uterus can change into endometrial-like cells and begin to grow.
- Diseases can spread through the body via blood and lymphatic cells as a result of stem cells giving rise to the disease.
- Other factors could include impaired immunity, genetics, and environmental contaminants.
Effects and risk factors of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can have a different impact on people. It can affect them physically, emotionally, and mentally. Common effects of endometriosis include:
- Severe pains especially during menstruation
- Infertility (inability to give birth)
- Heavy periods
- Mood swings
- Menstruation at an early age
- Short menstrual cycle
- Inheritance of the condition by future generations
- Disorder of the reproductive tract
- Low body mass index (BMI)
- Ovarian cancer
How do I know I am suffering from endometriosis?
Symptoms of endometriosis are numerous and they vary from person to person, as well as from month to month. Interestingly, some people do not have symptoms at all. Symptoms often improve after menopause but sometimes might persist.
Below are some of the symptoms of endometriosis:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Prolonged or heavy periods
- Pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen, lower back, or legs
- Ovulation pain
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Painful urination
- Nausea or abdominal bloating
- Difficulty in getting pregnant
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Diarrhea during menstruation
- Painful bowel movements
- Depression and anxiety
Diagnosis and Treatment
It is important that you speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any or a combination of the symptoms listed above. Share as much information as you can to your doctor as this can help speed up your diagnosis.
Endometriosis has no cure but treatments can help to manage or improve your condition with little or no complications. In extreme cases, surgery might be needed for some people. Your doctor will help in determining what will work best for you.
SOURCE: WHO & NHS
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