What Is Endometriosis;What Does It Do?

Endometriosis is a disorder in which endometrial tissue grows in places other than the inside of the uterus. The portions of endometrial tissue outside the uterus are called implants.The endometrium is the special tissue that lines the uterus. It builds up each month, and then is sloughed off through the vagina during menstruation. Of course, if an egg is fertilized, the egg is implanted in the endometrium, which does not slough off this time and is the tissue in which the fetus begins to grow during pregnancy. .

They generally are found in or on the ovaries, bladder, or rectum.The tissue in the endometrial implants becomes engorged with blood each month, and at the time the uterine endometrial tissue is being discharged into your vagina (your menstrual period), the outside endometrial tissue bleeds into the pelvic cavity. Very little blood actually is lost, and seldom does endometriosis cause dangerous internal bleeding.

Major Symptom of Endometriosis

The major symptom of endometriosis is extreme menstrual pain. Many women with endometriosis also have painful ovulation, approximately halfway between menstrual periods. Some have painful intercourse. Others have no symptoms except infertility. If you have painful menstrual periods your doctor should make sure you do not have endometriosis before proceeding with other treatments.

Endometriosis is most common among younger women and women who have not had children. Sometimes the implants grow as adhesions between two parts of the pelvic cavity, such as between an ovary and a coil of the bowel. If endometriosis causes adhesions, this produces even greater pain, because any movement by any part of the body is felt as pain in the other. For example, passing gas through the rectum could cause uterine or ovarian pain if those organs have been attached to the rectum by adhesions.

Women with endometriosis are more likely to have problems conceiving a child than women without endometriosis. For that reason, if you have endometriosis and are considering having children, you might want to evaluate whether now is the time to have children. You might want to try to find a partner, or convince your partner to have children, or decide to do it alone with artificial insemination.

If you do become pregnant, your endometriosis will probably recede. No one knows the exact cause of endometriosis, but it is known to be related to the hormone cycle. If you have not been pregnant, pregnancy will probably help your condition greatly. If you are close to menopause, menopause will also probably help the endometriosis. If you think about the above statements, you will realize that “pseudopregnancy” or “artificial menopause” might also improve endometriosis. You are exactly right, and both of those treatments are in fact suggested for endometriosis.

Hormone drugs such as birth control pills, because they prevent the release of eggs and the build-up of endometrial tissue, help to control endometriosis. A permanent cure for endometriosis is the removal of the ovaries. Between those two options is the removal of the actual implants, which sometimes can be done. Infertility specialists recommend the following progression of treatments if a woman chooses to try to become pregnant, and these treatments probably are appropriate for any woman who prefers to avoid hysterectomy.

First, the patient is carefully observed and given pain medication for the menstrual cramping Second, hormones are ad- ministered to suppress ovulation. After that the endometriosis may be improved sufficiently for the woman to become pregnant. Third, surgery of the implants and hormone therapy are recommended. Infertility specialists claim a 30 to 40 percent success rate in pregnancy after surgery of implants. Hormone drugs all carry risks. Birth control pills and menopausal estrogens carry risks of blood clots, gallbladder disease, and possibly cancer. A nonestrogen drug sometimes given for endometriosis is called danazol.

Danazol also has risks, called “mild” by doctors, including nausea, hot flashes, mild depression, muscle cramps, weight gain, acne, and irregular bleeding. Some androgenic (more like male) side effects, such as facial hair growth and voice changes, are reversible, but some may be permanent.

Seeking alternative treatments for a condition such as endometriosis can be a circular process. Because we are debilitated by pain and fear of significant illness, we have less energy left to seek alternative treatments. Simply going to the doctor appears to take the least energy. “Ilie catch is that the treatment suggested by the doctor is almost always more radical and perhaps more hazardous than other kinds of treatment.

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