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Endometriosis is a chronic gynaecological disease that affects millions of women worldwide.  It is a condition in which tissue resembling the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus, leading to inflammation and scarring in the pelvis and other parts of the body.  It can cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility and can have a significant impact on a woman’s quality of life.

A woman sat on the toilet in pain whilst having a heavy menstrual period

 

CAUSES OF ENDOMETRIOSIS

The exact cause of endometriosis is not fully understood, but several theories have been proposed. One theory is that menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity during menstruation, where it attaches and grows outside the uterus. Another theory suggests that endometrial cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body. Hormones such as oestrogen also play a role in the development of endometriosis, as the tissue outside the uterus responds to hormonal changes in the same way as the endometrium inside the uterus.

A diagram showing the difference between adenomyosis and endometriosis

SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS

Endometriosis can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

Pelvic pain which may be severe or debilitating
Painful menstrual cramps
Painful intercourse
Painful bowel movements or urination during menstrual periods
Heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods
Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant

A diagram to show the symptoms of endometriosis

 

Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions. A doctor may perform a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or MRI to look for signs of endometriosis. A laparoscopy, which involves inserting a thin tube with a camera into the abdomen, may be needed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the disease.

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR ENDOMETRIOSIS
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help manage mild to moderate pain. Prescription pain medication may be needed for more severe pain.
  • Hormone therapy: Hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patch, or ring, can help regulate hormones and reduce the growth of endometrial tissue. Other hormone therapies, such as GnRH agonists or progestin-only medications, may also be used.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove endometrial tissue or adhesions. This can be done through laparoscopy or laparotomy or even a hysterectomy
  • Fertility treatment: In cases where endometriosis is causing infertility, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended.

 

Nadira Awal

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