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Endometriosis: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, and Treatments

by Anam · November 8, 2020

This article is written with the intent to help you understand endometriosis. In this complete guide to endometriosis, I will talk about:

  • What is Endometriosis?
  • Endometriosis Causes
  • Endometriosis – Possible Complications
  • Symptoms of Endometriosis
  • Endometriosis – People at Risk
  • Endometriosis – Can We Prevent It?
  • Treatment for Endometriosis

1.

What is Endometriosis?

The lining on the inside of the endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus’s inner wall. It is this tissue that is expelled each month during menstruation. Each month, it thickens rapidly in anticipation of pregnancy, and if pregnancy does not occur, then excess endometrial tissue is shed during menstruation.
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In endometriosis, some of these endometrial cells spread outside the uterus to other parts of the abdomen usually. Endometrial tissue, no matter where it is in the body, responds to hormonal fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Just like the uterus’ lining, it forms and then “bleeds” every month. However, when this tissue is outside the uterus, as is the case in women with endometriosis, the bleeding has no outlet to the outside of the body. The blood and lose endometrial cells can irritate nearby organs and the peritoneum (the membrane that encloses the organs in the abdomen). It can also lead to cysts’ formation (the size of a pin to the size of a grapefruit), scar tissue, and adhesions. The scar tissue sometimes causes pain and the endometriosis cyst can burst and bleed. This process looks like cancer, but endometriosis is not a cancerous condition. However, it can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Endometriosis is not a fatal disease. About 5% to 10% of women of childbearing age suffer from endometriosis. About a quarter to half of the infertile women have it. Where Do Endometrial Tissues Form? Most often on the: Ovaries Fallopian tubes Ligaments supporting the uterus Outer surface of the uterus Nearby organs, such as the intestines, bladder, or kidneys (more rarely). Finally, they are exceptionally found in places very far from the uterus, such as the lungs, arms, or thighs. Endometriosis Causes Currently, no one can explain why some women have endometriosis. It is possible that a malfunction of the immune system and certain genetic factors are involved. Here are two hypotheses on endometriosis: The most accepted hypothesis involves the notion of retrograde flow. During menstruation, blood and the outer layers of the endometrium are normally forced outward through muscle contractions. Occasionally, blood flow may reverse (hence the term retrograde flow), and blood containing endometrial cells may be directed to the pelvic cavity through the fallopian tubes. This reflux would occur occasionally in most women, but the rooting of endometrial cells would only accompany it in some of them. Another hypothesis is that endometrial tissue could migrate out of the uterus through the lymph or blood.

Endometriosis – Possible Complications

Endometriosis and Fertility The main risk associated with endometriosis is infertility. About one in three women who have trouble getting pregnant has endometriosis. Moreover, the diagnosis of endometriosis is often made during exploratory tests (by laparoscopy) because of infertility problems. Endometriosis and Pregnancy The endometrial tissue’s adhesions can reduce fertility by preventing the release of the ovum or by hindering its passage to the uterus through the fallopian tubes. We still observe that 90% of women with mild or moderate endometriosis succeed in becoming pregnant within five years. However, the more time passes, the more fertility is likely to be compromised.

Symptoms of Endometriosis:

  • Difficulty getting pregnant.
  • Fatigue, irritability, or depression, usually because the pain is chronic.
  • Premenstrual brownish discharge or spotting.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding during menstruation.
  • The most common symptom of endometriosis (found in 50 to 91% of women according to studies) is pain, painful periods (dysmenorrhea), pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), frequent pelvic pain, painful defecation, difficulty in urinating (dysuria), abdominal (umbilical), pelvic pain that can radiate into the leg (cruralgia),
  • This pain is usually not the primary dysmenorrhea that passes with paracetamol. In most cases, this is disabling pain leading to total or partial incapacity for a few days, or even, in the most severe cases, permanent, and requiring the use of powerful analgesics and even opioids.
  • However, each case is unique. There are so-called “asymptomatic” endometrioses that develop without noise, without pain… and often, in this case, we discover endometriosis by chance or during a fertility check-up.

Fortunately, not all women with period pain have endometriosis! If the pain subsides with a simple pain reliever, then there is no need to worry. The pain that should alert is that which returns each month, stronger, more and more present, and an anti-spasmodic or light analgesic is not enough to calm. This pain requires consultation.

2.

Endometriosis – People at Risk

  • Women who have never had children.
  • Women whose close relative (mother, sister, daughter) suffers from endometriosis.
  • Women with a birth defect constrict the cervix or make it narrow, making it difficult to pass the menstrual flow.
  • To a lesser extent, women who have had an early period or who have a short menstrual cycle.
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Endometriosis – Can We Prevent It?

Researchers are interested in the effect of exercise and diet on the risk of endometriosis. These are hypotheses still under study. Physical Exercise – Endometriosis Prevention Studies that retrospectively compared women with endometriosis and others without (case-control studies) suggest that physical exercise is associated with a 40% reduction in endometriosis risk. However, it is not certain that this is a cause and effect relationship. Women with endometriosis may be less likely to be active because of their pain, even years before being diagnosed.

3.

Health Food – Endometriosis Prevention

The food could also influence the risk of endometriosis reached. For the moment, the results of the studies are variable, and this remains a hypothesis. Experts are particularly interested in the type of fat consumed because some fatty acids are precursors of pro-inflammatory molecules (omega-6) and could increase pain, while others have an anti-inflammatory effect. According to research, women who consumed the greenest vegetables and fresh fruits were less likely to suffer from endometriosis than those who ate the least. In addition, those who ingested a lot of beef, other red meats, and ham were at a higher risk of suffering from this disorder. The other components of the diet do not appear to be related to endometriosis. For example, the consumption of alcohol and coffee has not been associated with the disease.
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Treatment for Endometriosis

Treatment aims to limit the symptoms and reduce the onset, recurrence, or progression of the disease. Endometriosis may recur in the same or different form from that identified at diagnosis. The choice between medical and surgical treatment depends on the type of endometriosis identified, the patient’s plans (desire for pregnancy, professionals, etc.), the age, the severity, and the extent of the lesions. There is no definitive treatment for endometriosis to date, whether drug or surgical. The following are treatments that can help cure endometriosis: Castor Oil for Quick Relief from Endometriosis Approaches to consider Castor oil (Ricinus communis). This vegetable oil, called “castor oil” in English, can help reduce pelvic pain. Soak a compress in castor oil. Apply it on the lower abdomen. Put a hot water bottle or a hot “magic bag” on top. Lie on your back and let sit for at least 30 minutes. If necessary, repeat daily. Traditional Chinese Medicine – Cure for Endometriosis Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the most used by women unconventional methods to treat endometriosis. Treatments generally consist of toning the Kidneys and Qi (energy flow) and promoting blood circulation to counteract the abdomen’s stagnant blood. It combines both acupuncture and plants, such as corydalis, Chinese bupleurum, or Chinese angelica. Some clinical studies in China suggest that TCM can relieve symptoms or even cure infertility in some women 11-14. However, these studies were not performed with a placebo control, and their methodological quality is considered low. Treatment requires monitoring by a specialist. Medical Treatment of Endometriosis The medical treatment of endometriosis comes in two forms: analgesic/anti-inflammatory type treatments and hormonal treatments. The common goal of these two types of treatment is to reduce pain. The treatment chosen will depend on the style of endometriosis, the symptoms, the patient’s wishes, the tolerance, and the effectiveness of the treatment. Surgical Intervention for Endometriosis: What are the Current Treatments? Between 25 and 35 years, to preserve the patient’s reproductive possibilities as much as possible, the gynecologist will more often resort to conservative surgery. Frequently performed by operative laparoscopy (laparoscopy), the objective of surgery is to remove endometriotic lesions while preserving the uterus and ovaries as much as possible.

4.

Alternative Medicine for Endometriosis: What to Think About It?

In parallel with drug treatment and possible surgical interventions, it is interesting to consider alternative medicine. These do not use drug treatments and focus on caring for the body and mind. The majority of alternative medicines are indicated for the management of stress/inflammation and can have effective results. Before any initiative, you must talk to your doctor to avoid possible contraindications.
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How Does a Healthy Lifestyle Impact Endometriosis?

As an inflammatory disease, endometriosis can be integrated into a holistic approach that aims to change one’s lifestyle to treat the symptoms of the disease. The prevention of endometriosis and its symptoms is done by adopting healthy lifestyle rules based on a balanced and varied diet. Inflammation is an aggravating factor in endometriosis. It is necessary to favor a hypotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant diet containing fatty acids, omega 3, and omega 6.

Endometriosis: Hormonal Treatment

The recourse to hormonal treatment is explained by the fact that endometriosis is a so-called hormone-dependent disease, i.e., it reacts to hormones secreted by the body and, therefore, here to estrogen. Estrogen is the female sex hormone. Its secretion triggers periodic changes in the uterus and vagina to prepare the body for fertilization and pregnancy. Under its influence, the uterus’s inner lining (called the endometrium) thickens during the first part of a woman’s hormonal cycle until the time of ovulation. Bottom-line!! Endometriosis is a gynecological disease. 1 in 10 women is affected by this disease. It is characterized by the development, outside the uterine cavity, of tissue similar to that of the endometrium. These segments of the uterine lining follow the hormonal rhythm and produce blood every 28 days. It potentially affects all regulated women. I will not lie to you. Currently, there is no treatment available for endometriosis. The hysterectomy does not guarantee the final disappearance of the symptoms, as endometriosis may occur “spontaneously” in other parts of the body. It is essential to see a doctor early when symptoms of endometriosis develop because the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better it is treated. It also decreases the risk of infertility. You should know that the above-mentioned symptoms may indicate another disorder of the reproductive system, the presence of ovarian cysts, for example. A pelvic ultrasound will detect them quickly.

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