What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial like tissue in a location outside the uterus.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

This often causes abdominal or pelvic pain, Menstrual pain, scar tissue formation and infertility, although some women don’t have symptoms. It is indeed a common condition, affecting women during reproductive years.

How is Endometriosis Diagnosed

Endometriosis is a surgical diagnosis made through laparoscopy. At the time of surgery the physician is able

  1. To evaluate both the presence and extent of endometriosis.
  2. To remove the endometriosis.

Endometriosis is categorized into 4 stages:

  • Stage 1 minimal
  • Stage 2 mild
  • Stage 3 moderate
  • Stage 4 severe.

Treatments of endometriosis type pain include:

  • Medical
  • Surgical approach .

Medical Endometriosis Treatment:

Birth control pills. The pills usually decrease the menstrual cramps. It may be prescribed in a continuous fashion therefore avoiding menstrual periods altogether. Other  medical options available to the physician include gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (Lupron) or Danazol.

Surgical Endometriosis Treatment :

Is attempted at the time of diagnosis, this  includes ablation or removal of endometriosis implants,  cutting adhesions or scar tissue, and removal of endometriosis cysts called endometriomas.

It has long been known that endometriosis regresses during pregnancy so although one of the main problems with endometriosis is infertility. 30-50% of infertility patients have endometriosis.  Pregnancy is advised because the pregnancy itself creates a hormonal environment that inhibits endometriosis.

Ovarian stimulation with intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the options for treatment. Several studies have shown this,  in patients with minimal to mild endometriosis.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is another treatment option and the success rates are similar to other patients of similar age with different diagnosis. So endometriosis affects millions of women worldwide and needs attention, endometriosis is a chronic diseases affecting life style, causes pain and infertility. The physician is able to tailor treatment based on individual needs.

Does Endometriosis Cause Infertility?

Endometrium that normally is growing inside the uterus, when found outside the uterus is called endometriosis.

Endometriosis is classified as: Stage 1 minimal, Stage 2 mild, Stage 3 moderate, Stage 4 severe.

Like endometrium, endometriosis is also hormonally sensitive but unlike the endometrium there is no exit site such as the cervix and the vagina, thus it causes irritation resulting in: scar tissue formation, pelvic and abdominal pain, or pain with intercourse.

30-50% of infertility patients have endometriosis.

Infertility due to endometriosis can be from distorted anatomy caused by pelvic adhesions or scarred fallopian tubes. Also altered immune system function and poor egg quality.

Is There A Cure For Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic disease and the cause is elusive so there is no cure for endometriosis.  Birth control pills and other hormonal treatment may be effective in improving pain symptoms. However for infertility, the treatment is surgical removal of scar tissue and restoring pelvic anatomy. In vitro fertilization is also recommended for patients with infertility due to endometriosis

Further Reading About Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a medical condition in females related to gynecology. It is a condition of formation of endometrial cells. Seen typically during the reproductive period of a woman it affects approximately every 1 out of 10 women. The reproductive age in women being long starting from commencement of menstruation to menopause the chances of attack get higher. Endometriosis is a state in which the endometrial tissues which are essentially located in the uterus are found in other locales inside the body. These other locales include pelvic sidewall, Pouch of Douglas, fallopian tubes, uterosacral ligaments etc in particular and anywhere inside the pelvic cavity in general. Other not so common locations are intestines, bowels, appendix, colon etc.

The worst part of Endometriosis is that it has no or very mild symptoms which make it even harder for a patient to understand if she is suffering from it or not. For those who experience symptoms of Endometriosis, the most common of them are pelvic pain during menstruation and infertility. Some patients suffer from cramps and pain during bowel movements, urination and intercourse. The intensity of pain may vary from time to time and person to person. Other symptoms of Endometriosis are diarrhea or constipation,lower back pain, lower abdominal pain, heavy or irregular bleeding during menstruation and presence of blood in urine. Some of the very rare syndromes are chest pain, headache, seizures, coughing blood etc.

Cause of Endometriosis is still unknown to doctors around the world. But of the few theories formulated after research one says that Endometriosis is caused by retrograde menstruation. But then all females having retrograde menstruation do not have Endometriosis. However retrograde menstruation causes deposition of endometrial tissues in abnormal locations thereby causing Endometriosis. Another possibility is that the primitive tissues in the pelvic cavity grow into a form of endometrial cells. Transfer of endometrial cells via surgery is another reason for development of Endometriosis in places like brain, spine, lung etc which are remote from the pelvis. The final theory states that if a woman has alterations in the immune system with Endometriosis then the body fails to determine or destroy any case of growth of endometrial cells in abnormal sites.

Diagnosis of Endometriosis is as important as the treatment. However determine a case of Endometriosis is only definite if a patient undergoes a surgery. Otherwise patients suspected with Endometriosis by nature of their pains and cramps are prescribed NSAID drug which controls the pain but has no impact on the endometrial implants. In that case medication available for Endometriosis should be resorted on.

Natural Treatment For Endometriosis

Providing you have a proper diagnosis, there is no reason why you cannot try a natural treatment for endometriosis. There are various self help measures you can try:

  • Try to avoid exposure to toxins and environmental chemicals. One theory is that much of our exposure comes from animal fats, so eating only organic produce can help
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and flaxseeds. Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale can all help with estrogen metabolism. Flaxseed has also been shown to be beneficial for women suffering from estrogen related conditions
  • Some alternative practitioners recommend using progesterone creams and claim that this can slow the growth of endometrial tissue. There are no known scientific studies to support this, but it is an avenue which may be worth exploring
  • Oily fish, or the fatty acids found in them (known as Omega 3) have been shown to be helpful for women with endometriosis
  • Stress has been shown to have a detrimental effect on hormone balance. Reducing stress is therefore thought to be an effective natural treatment for endometriosis as it will help to rebalance hormones and thus reduce the likelihood of endometrial tissue growth. Studies have shown that women with high stress levels are more likely to suffer from endometriosis
  • One study showed a relationship between bacterial overgrowth and endometriosis and indicated that after just 8 weeks of treatment, symptoms of endometriosis were reduced significantly