This is for everyone out there suffering. This topic I am posting about has been a very personal and private situation in my life for a long time. I have decided with a lot of thought that I cannot keep it to myself any longer. I suffer from a chronic disease called Endometriosis. It affects 1 out of 10 women. Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissues and cells like endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the womb (uterus), grows in locations outside the uterus. During ovulation, the endometrium and the misplaced endometrial cells thicken. Unlike the endometrium, the misplaced endometrial cells cannot leave the body via menstruation. They bleed, cause inflammation and pain and then heal. Over time, this process can create scar tissue. Patches of endometriosis tend to be ‘sticky’ and may join organs to each other. The medical term for this is adhesions. For example, the bladder or bowel may ‘stick’ to the uterus. Large patches of endometriosis may form into cysts.
The symptoms of endometriosis may include:
• Pelvic pain
• Chronic lower back and abdominal pain
• Nerve pain
• Painful periods
• Painful intercourse
• Spotting and bleeding between cycles
• Excessive bleeding
• Increased pain during bowel movements
• Increased pain during urination
• Painful digestion
• Chronic fatigue
• Lower back and leg pain
• Anxiety and depression
Keep in mind these side effects of endometriosis can last throughout the entire month of a women’s cycle not just during their period.
Diagnosing endometriosis may be suspected from the history of what you have been experiencing. An examination from your doctor may be needed to localise tenderness. You may also be required to take a blood test, a serum CA-125 is sometimes helpful in monitoring the course of a severe disease. It is less reliable as an indicator in early stages though. Ultrasound will not detect most types of endometriosis; however, it is most useful for picking up endometriosis that has formed a lump inside the ovary. Surgery is the most reliable course of action for diagnosing endometriosis. Laparoscopy is the most common surgery for gynaecologists to perform, it involves removing endometriosis from the peritoneum (lining) covering the pelvic organs. Surgery may be necessary to establish diagnosis, to check for cure, recurrence, or the possible effect of the endometriosis on fertility. Drug therapy is another treatment for this disease. Only certain types of endometriosis, red or blister lesions, respond well to drug therapy though. The most commonly used drugs are GnRH analogues, Dimetriose, progestogens, either Duphaston or Provera and one of the contraceptive pills.
Therapy that is really beneficial for people suffering from endometriosis is Acupuncture, it is known to reduce pain by 65%. Physiotherapy is really good for endometriosis as well. Exercising regularly, and having a healthy balanced diet, e.g. Paleo Diet is beneficial to your health when suffering with endometriosis and helps suppress it.
What does endometriosis look like? There are many presentations of endometriosis such as raised black or brown lesions, white discolouration, red “flame-like” streaks, clear blisters, small red blisters, blueish lesions or yellow patches.
Staging of the disease? There are varying degrees of endometriosis and staging. The endometrial implants within the pelvis in response to estrogen, thicken, grow and rupture each month. The spilled contents cannot escape from the pelvis and thus cause irritation, inflammation, scarring and adhesions. Each time that larger implants or cysts rupture, more endometrial cells spread and the disease occurs. Stage one endometriosis is said to exist when there are relatively few implants, whereas stage four endometriosis is said to exist when there are extensive implants and severe adhesive disease. In some cases, the normal anatomy of the pelvis can be grossly distorted. Strangely enough in some cases women may be stage four and hardly feel any symptoms, but other women may be stage one and experience horrific pain. It all depends on the person and how their body reacts to the disease.
Endometriosis is commonly associated with infertility. It is present in 30% of women requiring IVF. The majority of women with endometriosis can be treated successfully by drugs or surgery and it is only if the medical or surgical therapy fails or infertility is prolonged that IVF is necessary. Women achieving pregnancy unassisted during early stages of endometriosis is 80%. Over severe stages natural conception decreases to 30-50% of women.
I hope this has given some light on what endometriosis is. I have written most of my knowledge about this disease in this blog post but I have quoted information in this post from ECCA (Endometriosis Care Centre Of Australia). I wanted to make sure the information in this post was as accurate as possible. My next post will be about my personal experience with endometriosis. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
TRIGGER WARNING. PICTURES/EXAMPLES OF ENDOMETRIOSIS ATTACHED BELOW.