Endometriosis is really a common, yet poorly understood disease. It could strike women of any socioeconomic class, age, or race. It’s estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of American women of childbearing age have endometriosis.
Although some women with endometriosis may have severe pelvic pain, others who have the condition haven’t any symptoms. Nothing about endometriosis is easy, and there are no absolute cures. The disease can affect a woman’s whole existence–her ability to work, her ability to reproduce, and her relationships with her mate, her child, and everyone around her.
What is Endometriosis?
The name endometriosis originates from the term “endometrium,” the tissue that lines the within of the uterus. If a woman is not pregnant, this tissue accumulates and is shed each month. It is discharged as menstrual flow at the end of each cycle. In endometriosis, tissue that looks and acts like endometrial tissue is available outside the uterus, usually in the abdominal cavity. Endometrial tissue residing outside the uterus responds to the menstrual period in a way that is similar to just how endometrium usually responds in the uterus.
At the end of every cycle, when hormones cause the uterus to shed its endometrial lining, endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus will break apart and bleed. However, unlike menstrual fluid from the uterus, that is discharged from the body during menstruation, blood from the misplaced uterus has no place to go. Tissues surrounding the area of endometriosis could become inflamed or swollen. The inflammation may produce scar tissue formation around the area of endometriosis. These endometrial tissue sites may develop into what exactly are called “lesions,” “implants,” “nodules,” or “growths.”
Endometriosis is most often found in the ovaries, on the fallopian tubes, and the ligaments supporting the uterus, in the inner area between the vagina and rectum, on the outer surface of the uterus, and on the lining of the pelvic cavity. Infrequently, endometrial growths are found on the intestines or in the rectum, on the bladder, vagina cervix, and vulva (external genitals), or in abdominal surgery scars, Very rarely, endometrial growths have been found outside the abdomen, in the thigh, arm, or lung.
Physicians may use stages to describe the severe nature of endometriosis. Endometrial implants that are small and not widespread are believed minimal or mild endometriosis. Moderate endometriosis implies that larger implants or more extensive scar tissue exists. Severe endometriosis is used to describe large implants and extensive scar tissue.
What are the Symptoms?
Most commonly, the outward symptoms of endometriosis start years after menstrual periods begin. Through the years, the symptoms tend to gradually increase as the endometriosis areas increase in size. After menopause, the abnormal implants shrink away and the symptoms subside. The most frequent symptom is pain, specially excessive menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) which might be felt in the abdomen or lower back or pain during or after sexual activity (dyspareunia). Infertility occurs in about 30-40 percent of women with endometriosis.
Rarely, the irritation due to endometrial implants may progress into infection or abscesses causing pain independent of the menstrual cycle.
Endometrial patches may also be tender to the touch or pressure, the intestinal pain could also derive from endometrial patches on the walls of the colon or intestine. The number of pain is not always linked to the severity of the disease. Some women with severe endometriosis haven’t any pain; while others with just a few small growths have incapacitating pain.
Endometrial cancer is quite rarely connected with endometriosis, occurring in under 1 percent of women who’ve the disease. When it can occur, it is usually within more complex patches of endometriosis in older women and the long-term outlook in these unusual cases is reasonably good.
How is Endometriosis Related to Fertility Problems?
Severe endometriosis with extensive scarring and organ damage may affect fertility. It is considered among the three major causes of female infertility.
However, unsuspected or mild endometriosis is a common finding among infertile women. How this type of endometriosis affects fertility is still not clear.
While the pregnancy rates for patients with endometriosis remain less than those of the overall population, most patients with endometriosis do not experience fertility problems. We don’t have a clear understanding of the cause-effect relationship of endometriosis and infertility
What is the Cause of Endometriosis?
The cause of endometriosis continues to be unknown. One theory is that during menstruation some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen, where it implants and grows. Another theory shows that endometriosis can be a genetic process or that one families may have predisposing factors to endometriosis. In the latter view, endometriosis sometimes appears because the tissue development process gone awry.
According to the theory of traditional chinese medicine, endometriosis is really a disease which is caused by the stagnation of blood. Blood stagnation might occur due to a number of abortions or lower abdominal or pelvic surgeries.
Additionally, engaging in sexual intercourse during menstruation may very likely over time result in blood stagnation. Emotional trauma, severe stress, physical or emotional abuse can all result in the stagnation of blood.
Additionally, diet can be a precipitating factor. The constant, long term ingestion of cold foods can congeal blood and thus donate to the stagnation thereof. Cold foods include raw vegetable, ices, ice cream, ice in drinks, frozen yogurt, etc. Remember, cold congeals. Consider what happens to a standard glass of water when devote the freezer. It turns to ice.
The blood is affected similarly. That is to say, it congeals, doesn’t flow smoothly and will form endometrial adhesions, chocolate cysts, uterine fibroids. Whatever the cause of endometriosis, its progression is influenced by various stimulating factors such as hormones or growth factors. In Endometriosis risks , investigators are studying the role of the immune system in activating cells which could secrete factors which, in turn, stimulate endometriosis.
In addition to these new hypotheses, investigators are continuing to look into previous theories that endometriosis is a disease influenced by delaying childbearing. Since the hormones created by the placenta during pregnancy prevent ovulation, the progress of endometriosis is slowed or stopped during pregnancy and the full total number of lifetime cycles is reduced for a woman who had multiple pregnancies.
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of endometriosis begins with a gynecologist evaluating the patient’s medical history. A whole physical exam, including a pelvic examination, is also necessary. However, diagnosis of endometriosis is complete when proven by a laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure in which a laparoscope (a tube with a light inside it) is inserted right into a small precise incision in the abdomen.
The laparoscope is moved round the abdomen, which includes been distended with skin tightening and gas to make the organs simpler to see. The surgeon can then check the health of the abdominal organs and see the endometrial implants. The laparoscopy will show the locations, extent, and size of the growths and will help the patient and her doctor make better-informed decisions about treatment. Endometriosis is really a long-standing disease that often develops slowly.
What is the Treatment?
While the treatment for endometriosis has varied through the years, doctors now agree that if the symptoms are mild, no more treatment apart from medication for pain could be needed. Endometriosis is a progressive disorder.
It is my opinion that by not treating endometriosis it will get worse. Treatment should soon after a positive diagnosis is manufactured. The pain associated with endometriosis can be diminished by using acupuncture and herbal medicine. I’ve treated many women with endometriosis and have successfully alleviated pain and slowed up growth and recurrence of endometriosis.
For all those patients with mild or minimal endometriosis who wish to become pregnant, doctors are advising that, with respect to the age of the individual and the quantity of pain associated with the disease, the best course of action is to have a trial amount of unprotected intercourse for six months to 1 12 months. If pregnancy does not occur within that time, then further treatment could be needed. Again, these patients should consider herbal medicine to aid in the process of conception.