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Finding the END in ENDometriosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

December 3, 2020

Endometriosis can seem like an endless maze with no foreseeable exit. If you’ve had it, you can probably relate. The condition is nobody’s idea of a good time, and it can wreak havoc on fertility, quality of life and overall health if left untreated. Some women, although presented with its symptoms, do not learn of the condition until they try to start a family. By then, all too often, much of the damage is already done.

Agonising and heavy periods, pain during menstruation and urination, and chronic pelvic pain are classic signs of endometriosis, although they are also common manifestations of other conditions. If you can relate to one or more of these symptoms and suspect that you have been harbouring the condition, it is a good idea to dig deeper and understand its causes, symptoms and treatments.

To Consult: The Best Gynecologist in Chandigarh

Understanding Endometriosis

If you haven’t been acquainted with endometriosis before, here, allow us to do the introductions. Endometriosis is a disorder that entails the growth of uterine tissue on organs outside the uterus. It can affect much of the pelvic landscape, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvis. In a rare clutch of cases, endometriosis extends beyond the pelvic region. Endometriosis follows the beats of a regular menstrual cycle, presenting a menstrual flow month after month, with tissue outside the uterus layering, imploding and bleeding.

The difference, however, lies in the fact that this tissue has no way of being released from the pelvic region and therefore becomes restricted, aggravating surrounding tissue and resulting in scarring and clumping. The most apparent symptom of endometriosis is severe pain. In many cases, it compromises female fertility. With advanced fertility treatments, however, endometriosis can be combated effectively to achieve a healthy pregnancy.

Causes of Endometriosis:

Doctors have not established a clear correlation between endometriosis and its underlying causes. However, some factors are thought 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 can present 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 Minimise the Effects of Endometriosis

Endometriosis can affect women not just physically, but also emotionally and psychologically. Treatment options span a wide spectrum and although surgery is considered in some cases, it is usually treated as a last resort.

Some common treatment options are mentioned below.

  • Medication in the form of anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs can relieve some of the pain caused by endometriosis
  • Hormone treatments may also be looked at to alleviate symptoms
  • Preliminary surgery is recommended if affected areas are known; chronic cases may require a hysterectomy
  • Conservative treatment for the removal of endometrial adhesions, resection of the endometrium and restoration of the pelvic anatomy
  • Laparoscopy, as a tool for diagnosis and surgery
  • Fertility treatment, possibly in vitro fertilisation, may be advised to achieve conception

Coping With Endometriosis

Endometriosis can be a difficult condition to deal with, especially if you are caught unawares and are already in its vice. Endometriosis has a significant impact on fertility and can impede the development of a healthy ecosystem for an embryo. As mentioned earlier, many women do not learn of their condition until after they start trying for a family. As a result, the condition can bring with it much disappointment and unanswered questions. If you have been affected with infertility and identify with one or more symptoms of endometriosis, it is important to seek help to cope with the condition.

Here are some measures you should take.

  • Endometriosis shares symptoms with a host of other conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease and irritable bowel syndrome; seek a formal diagnosis for your condition and opt for a second opinion, if necessary
  • Lean on your inner circle to help you on your journey to combating the condition; digital support groups are aplenty, but it is important to be emotionally invested in your spouse, family and close friends
  • Be open to sharing and receiving stories from other affected souls; there is no better feeling than knowing that you are not alone
  • If you’ve been struggling with growing your family, meet a fertility specialist to explore your options; a comprehensive investigation will help identify problems and give rise to a suitable endometriosis treatment plan

As aggressive as the condition can be, it is important not to let endometriosis dominate your life, fertility and decisions. With the right treatment, the condition can be managed and tamed cogently. Meet a doctor to know your options and reclaim the reigns of your life from endometriosis.

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