Endometriosis may be a new term to you, however this is not the case for the 6.5 million women in the U.S. with this condition. Whether you are curious to learn more about endometriosis, or have been recently diagnosed, continue to reading–knowledge is power!
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis takes its name from the term “endometrium, which is a tissue that lines the uterus. This condition is when there is tissue outside of the uterus. The tissue may grow on other pelvic organs and structures, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and bladder to name a few. Typically endometrial tissue sheds during the menstrual cycle, however, the endometrial that grows on other pelvic structures does not shed. This abnormal buildup can result in scarring, inflammation, and cysts. Women with endometriosis may present with a variety of symptoms, from infertility, to heavy and painful menstrual periods, to pain after sexual intercourse. As mentioned prior, this condition affects millions of women, or about 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44.
Causes and risk factors
While the exact causes are unknown, there are a few theories that scientists believe which may cause this condition:
- Genetics, as individuals with a family history are more likely to be affected.
- Endometrial tissues could be transported to other parts of the body through the bloodstream
- Instead of being expelled from the body during menstruation, endometrial tissue migrates into the fallopian tubes and the abdominal cavity.
Despite not knowing the causes, researchers have been able to identify risk factors which include family history of endometriosis, abnormal uterus as diagnosed by a provider, menstruation before age 11, and menstruation cycles less than 27 days.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A diagnosis by a provider can be made through a biopsy, surgery or non-invasive techniques such as ultrasound or MRI. In terms of treatment, there are several options depending on your age and level of symptoms. Medications such as birth control may be recommended to regulate hormone levels. Surgical interventions may also be an option, such as a hysterectomy to remove the uterus or an oophorectomy to remove the ovaries.
Life after diagnosis
There are several actions you can take to alleviate your symptoms such as trying an anti-inflammatory diet, practicing good sleep hygiene, seeking pelvic floor physical therapy, and engaging in physical activity or other hobbies that relieve stress. Though treatment and lifestyle changes can alleviate endometriosis symptoms and pain for many women, it’s essential to remain vigilant. Endometrial tissue has the potential to regrow, and symptoms might resurface even after surgery. Regularly scheduled check-ups with your doctor are crucial to monitor for any signs of endometrial tissue growth or recurrence.
- Endometriosis | Office on Women’s Health. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis#
- Endometriosis. John Hopkins Medicine. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/endometriosis
- Bilodeau K. Treating the pain of endometriosis. Harvard Health. Published November 20, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2023. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/treating-the-pain-of-endometriosis-2020112021458
About Dr. Peggy Roberts:
Dr. Peggy Roberts is a board certified, New York licensed Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She has spent over a decade caring for women of all ages. She has extensive experience in preventative medicine for women, high-risk pregnancies, other medicine and aesthetics.
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