Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) starts growing outside of the uterus, commonly around the ovaries, pelvis and fallopian tubes. When this tissue starts to break down and leave the body during menstruation, the endometrium that grows outside of the uterus can’t leave the body. The endometrium tissue that grows outside the uterus acts in the same way like the one that grows inside the uterus - due to the hormonal changes during menstruation it grows, it swells, but since it is unable to break down it creates inflammation, cysts, causes pelvic pain and even infertility. It is a very painful medical disorder, and the pain can begin a few days before the period starts, lasting until the period ends.
What causes endometriosis?
The only thing that it is known for sure in regards to this question is that estrogen (the hormone dominant in females) can make endometriosis worse. Everything else around what causes endometriosis is to this day, still a theory. It is assumed that the factors can be of both genetic and environmental factors. One idea is that the immune system is simply unable to break down all the endometrium cells, so they start to grow outside of the uterus.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The symptoms of endometriosis vary from one person to another. For some, it can be very hard to notice, for others it can be so painful that they’re unable to move or do anything during their periods. One thing to keep in mind is that the intensity of the endometriosis symptoms do not determine the seriousness of the condition itself. Some women can have really intense symptoms with a less serious outcome, while others can show little to no symptoms and have endometriosis cause them serious issues like infertility.
One of the first symptoms can be strong pain and cramping in the ovarian/pelvic area before your period starts and during your period. You can also experience:
- Back pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Painful urination and/or bowel movement, especially if you experience this only during menstruation
- Even pain during ovulation
Endometriosis in most cases is also characterized with very heavy bleeding during menstruation. However, this bleeding can also occur in other situations:
- During and after sexual intercourse
- Blood in your urine and/or feces
- Spotting when you’re not on your period
- It can also cause irregular periods, diarrhea, fatigue and feeling bloated.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider going to your doctor for a diagnosis. Through ultrasound, they will be able to determine if you have endometriosis, and where is the endo tissue located outside of the uterus. You should consider consulting with your doctor especially if you suddenly started to experience very painful periods or have problems with fertility over a year.
In worst cases, endometriosis can cause fertility problems, but for most women who experience this, there are solutions and they successfully stay pregnant. They even report reduction or complete remission from the endometriosis symptoms during and after pregnancy.
Treatment of endometriosis
While there isn’t one definite cure for endometriosis, there are successful treatment methods that can ease the symptoms. They include hormonal therapy, laparoscopy, subscribing pain killers during the menstrual cycle, laparotomy, and for those who make the decision, even a hysterectomy.
Women who experienced endometriosis reported that the symptoms disappeared after they entered menopause.
*****Did you know that menstrual cups are often praised by many women who suffer from endometriosis? Because of heavy bleeding, the often have to change tampons and pads much more frequently than the average. For this reason, menstrual cups can offer a great relief, as they last much longer with a much higher capacity, and they catch everything - including clots, making heavy periods less messy and more comfy! You can learn more about cups and try one for yourself here.