Many health conditions are specific to women, but endometriosis is one of the most misunderstood. Religious women are often afraid to talk about “Female issues” and those private parts. But we have to overcome that to work through the health problems with which many suffer. Although 10% of women of childbearing age suffer from the condition, knowledge is scarce. Even worse, about 75% of sufferers endure painful menstruation and pelvic pain on a monthly basis. The condition occurs when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, and it causes pain when it breaks up each month. Here, women can learn more about this painful condition and its treatment methods.
This condition is very frustrating for sufferers because it’s hard to diagnose. It’s been referred to as a ‘silent epidemic’ because it takes, on average, seven to ten years to diagnose. Some of its symptoms occur with other conditions as well, and others are highly subjective. Even a gynecologist may not be equipped to provide comprehensive care for women with this condition. The problem isn’t straightforward, and unfortunately it’s not a priority for medical researchers—which means thousands of patients and physicians are left unaware.
The Condition’s Causes
Medical researchers aren’t sure why this ailment occurs, but possible causes exist.
- Retrograde menstruation: This occurs when blood and endometrial cells go back up the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic area instead of leaving the body. The endometrial cells stick to the organs, and they bleed with every menstrual cycle.
- Hormone problems in puberty: Estrogen, in particular, may turn embryonic cells into endometrial cells. Other female hormones can turn peritoneal cells into endometrial cells, exacerbating the condition.
- Scar implantation: Surgeries such as Cesarean sections and hysterectomies can encourage endometrial cells to attach to the incision.
Other things can potentially cause this condition. If a woman believes she has it, she should see her ob/gyn doctor right away.
There are numerous risk factors for this condition. If a woman has never given birth, or she became pregnant at a later age, she’s at greater risk. Women who started their menstrual cycle before age 11, those with short cycles, and those who go through menopause later in life are also more likely to have this problem. Finally, women with a family history of similar problems, and those with medical conditions that prevent menstrual flow from leaving the body are at a greater risk of this painful condition. In the sections below, readers can learn some of the symptoms of endometrial problems.
While some cramping is normal, a woman with endometrial overgrowth may experience severe pain that gets worse with time. Pain may be persistent, dull, burning, or deep, and it can be accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness.
Heavy Menstrual Flow
All women experience different things during their cycles. While some only have light spotting, others have a heavier flow. If a woman’s period lasts longer than a week, or it’s severe enough to interfere with daily life, she should speak to a doctor.
Excessive swelling and inflammation caused by errant endometrial cells can show itself as abdominal tenderness and bloat. In some women, swelling can be so significant that they gain pant sizes during their cycle.
Because of menstrual blood loss, fatigue is an often-cited symptom of this condition. Excessive tiredness can be caused by anemia and inflammation, and cramps make it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
This condition is usually diagnosed during an MRI, a biopsy, a laparoscopy or an ultrasound. It’s classified in stages, from severe to minimal, and science hasn’t yet found a cure. However, many women manage the condition with surgery, pain relievers and hormone rebalancing. If a woman thinks she may have this condition, she should look for an endometrial specialist who can recommend the right treatment. Check your local Ob/Gyn for Endometriosis issues.