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Endometriosis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

December 3, 2020

When Rohan and Shweta Rao got married in 2015, they planned on starting a family right away. They’d known each other since they were teens and they’d always dreamt of raising children together. As they settled into the ways of marriage, juggling love, life and career, they were excited about what the future held. Shweta had always associated her period with abdominal pain; excruciating cramps that rendered her crippled for days each month. She had grown used to the monthly bouts of pain and hadn’t considered that they could be anything out of the ordinary. It was only when months of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving had passed, that Shweta Googled her symptoms.

“Severe menstrual pain causes,” she typed into the search bar, hoping that the disparate farrago of terms would produce answers. They did. She received a digital diagnosis. Endometriosis: uterine tissue that appears outside the uterus, Google suggested.

But Shweta wasn’t convinced. She decided to meet a doctor to seek an investigation. After all, if endometriosis was affecting her fertility potential, there had to be a way around it. And she was determined to find out.

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Understanding Endometriosis

In August 2016, Shweta was formally diagnosed with endometriosis, a disorder that involves the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus. Endometriosis can affect an array of organs, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvis. In a rare selection of cases, endometriosis spreads beyond the pelvic cavity. A woman with endometriosis goes through the same menstrual rhythms as a woman without the condition. Tissue outside the uterus thickens, collapses and bleeds with every menstrual cycle.

However, since this tissue has no way of escaping the pelvic area. It remains constrained, irritating surrounding tissue and sometimes causing scarring and clumping. The most obvious symptom of endometriosis is severe pain. The condition can also impair fertility like it did in Shweta. However, with the advent of modern fertility treatments, there are various workarounds that enable conception and healthy pregnancy.

Causes of Endometriosis

There isn’t a clear-cut explanation as to why endometriosis occurs in some women. However, there are some factors that are known to play a role:

  • Reverse menstruation: Menstrual blood flows backwards into the pelvis and fallopian tubes instead of exiting the body

  • Embryonic cell development: Embryonic cells develop into endometrial tissue in the pelvic and abdominal regions

  • Surgical aftermath: Abdominal surgery such as a C-section or hysterectomy may result in endometrial cells attaching to the surgical scar

  • Endometrial cell dispersion: Lymph nodes may be responsible for transmitting endometrial cells across the body

  • Genetic predisposition: Genetics play a role in passing the condition on to kin

  • Immune system dysfunction: Immune disorder may prevent the body from destroying or expelling extrauterine tissue

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis may result in the following symptoms:

  • Severe pelvic pain: Extreme or excruciating pelvic, abdominal and lower back pain in the days leading up to and during menstruation

  • Pain during intercourse: Pain that coincides with or follows intercourse

  • Pain during urination: Pain associated with bowel movements or urination, that typically arrives during the menstrual window

  • Heavy menstruation: Excessive menstrual bleeding or spells of mid-cycle bleeding

  • Infertility: Unsuccessful attempts at conception despite regular, unprotected intercourse

  • Miscellaneous: Other symptoms include constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and bloating, usually during the menstrual window

Measures to Minimize the Effects of Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause physical, emotional and psychological setbacks in women diagnosed with the condition. Surgery is most often looked at as a last resort, but there are other measures that can be adopted to alleviate the effects of the condition.

  • Medication in the form of anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs can shield a woman from the pain caused by endometriosis
  • Hormone treatments may be recommended to help reduce the impact of endometriosis
  • Preliminary surgery is advisable if damaged areas are identified; more severe cases may warrant a hysterectomy
  • Conservative treatment pointed at excision of endometrial adhesions, resection of the endometrium and restoration of the pelvic anatomy
  • Laparoscopy besides being used for diagnosis can also be used to perform surgery
  • Fertility treatment in the form of in vitro fertilisation may be required to achieve conception

You Would Also Like To Read: Finding The End In Endometriosis Causes Symptoms

Coping With Endometriosis

Endometriosis, while associated with physical pain, can affect women emotionally just as much when it comes to fertility. Endometriosis derails the healthy growth of intrauterine tissue, preventing the formation of a conducive environment for a growing embryo. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • It’s important that you have your condition diagnosed formally and seek a second opinion if necessary
  • Endometriosis is an oft-misdiagnosed condition because it shares symptoms with an array of other disorders, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Envelope yourself in a support system that helps you rise above your symptoms; there are dozens of digital support groups you can join to learn more about dealing with endometriosis
  • Sharing and hearing stories with other affected women will allow you to manage your condition better
  • If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while and haven’t had any success, meet a fertility specialist to evaluate your options; a thorough investigation will help in determining the way forward

With careful management, the effects of endometriosis can be minimized and managed. Don’t let endometriosis get the better of you. Seek a treatment plan on Cloudnine to help you win back moments you’ve lost to the condition. Begin today.

Must Read: Conquering Endometriosis - How To Rise Above The Condition

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