Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas of the body. It’s estimated that endometriosis affects one in ten women, but many cases go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. In this article, we look at what causes endometriosis and how it can be treated effectively.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside of it. The extra tissue can attach to other organs and cause pain, irregular bleeding and infertility.
The exact cause of endometriosis isn’t known but it may be due to an immune system response or genetic factors. It’s also possible that something else triggers its development later in life (for example, during puberty).
Endometriosis affects around one in 10 women in the UK at some point during their fertile years; however, symptoms usually start at around age 25-35 so many people don’t realise they have it until they try for a baby or get severe pain at periods.
Common symptoms of endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disease that causes the endometrium, or inner lining of the uterus, to grow outside of the uterus. It can cause pain and inflammation in many parts of your body including:
- Painful periods
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements
- Painful urination (peeing)
If you have endometriosis symptoms but no one has been able to figure out what’s going on with you yet, it’s important to know that there are ways to get diagnosed and treated for this condition.
The symptoms of endometriosis are often difficult to identify. The most common symptoms include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
- Pain in the lower abdomen or back during your period, between periods and/or during bowel movements (cramping). This may also be accompanied by bleeding between periods called intermenstrual bleeding or spotting.
- Pain before urination or after urination due to inflammation around the bladder or urethra (bladder syndrome).
What causes endometriosis?
The cause of endometriosis is unknown. It’s thought to be caused by retrograde menstruation, which means that the cells that normally shed during menstruation travel to other parts of the body and attach themselves there, but this is not a proven cause.
Treatment for endometriosis
Endometriosis is a chronic disease, so it can take time to find the right treatment. Treatment options depend on the severity of your endometriosis and other factors, such as:
- Your age
- Your general health (including allergies)
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding
Treatment options vary depending on the stage of endometriosis:
- During menstruation–the most common form of treatment for painful periods is over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium (Aleve). If these aren’t effective enough for you, talk with your doctor about prescription medications that might help.
- Another option is birth control pills; hormonal contraceptives are sometimes prescribed because they reduce monthly bleeding by causing fewer menstrual periods each year by suppressing ovulation in addition to preventing pregnancy. But note that birth control pills don’t cure endometriosis and may even make it worse in some cases!
Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms of endometriosis.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms of endometriosis. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the better your chances for a successful outcome.
Endometriosis is a painful condition that affects many women, especially those between ages 25 and 40. It occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it–on organs such as the ovaries or fallopian tubes, as well as other parts of your body.
Most people who have endometriosis don’t know they have it until they experience symptoms like severe menstrual cramps or pain during sex. Treatment options include surgery (called laparoscopic excision), medication (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and hormone therapy.
Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be similar to other conditions. Your doctor may recommend being tested for endometriosis if you’re experiencing pain during your period, pelvic pain or discomfort that gets worse during sex.
In addition, there are other tests that can be done including an ultrasound, blood test or laparoscopy. Once diagnosed with endometriosis treatment options include hormonal medications like birth control pills or progestin-only pills as well as non-hormonal drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
Some women have found relief through alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga but each person reacts differently so it is important that you find what works best for YOU!