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Endometriosis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

by Anam · November 8, 2020

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

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

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 this disorder, 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. if you have the disorder, clumps of this tissue (called endometriosis implants) form outside your uterus. Just like the uterus’ lining, it forms and then “bleeds” every month. Increasing evidence shows the lymphatic system plays important roles in the development of this disorder.

However, when this tissue is outside the uterus, the blood has no outlet or way to go outside the body. The blood and lose endometrial cells can irritate near the pelvic 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 cyst can burst and bleed. This process is quite similar to cancer, but disorder is not a cancerous condition. However, it can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. This disorder is not a fatal disease. About 5% to 10% of women of childbearing age suffer from this disorder. 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 this disorder. It is possible that a malfunction of the immune system and certain genetic factors are involved. Here are two hypotheses on this disorder: 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. But this is the case of retrograde menstruation. 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. Hence a physical examination is necessary.

Endometriosis – Possible Complications

Endometriosis and Fertility The main risk associated with this disorder is infertility. About one in three women who have trouble getting pregnant has this disorder. Moreover, the diagnosis of this disorder 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 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 this disorder(found in 50 to 91% of women according to studies) is pain, painful menstrual 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 this disorder by chance or during a fertility check-up.

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

Learn more about Pap Smear here. 

3.

Health Food – Endometriosis Prevention

The food could also influence the risk of this disorder. 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 green vegetables and fresh fruits were less likely to suffer from this disorder 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 this disorder. 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. This disorder 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 the disorder 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 this disorder to date, whether drug or surgical.

The following are treatments that can help cure this disorder:
Castor Oil for Quick Relief from this disorder. 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 this disorder Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of the most used by women unconventional methods to treat this disorder. 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 this disorder 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 the disorder, the symptoms, the patient’s wishes, the tolerance, and the effectiveness of the treatment. Patients are often given pain medication.

Surgical Intervention to treat 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. Women with endometriosis often prefer this treatment as side effects are minimal.

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, the disorder can be integrated into a holistic approach that aims to change one’s lifestyle to treat the symptoms of the disease. The prevention of this disorder and its symptoms is done by adopting healthy lifestyle rules based on a balanced and varied diet. Inflammation is an aggravating factor in this disorder. 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 this disorder is a so-called hormone-dependent disease, i.e., it reacts to hormones (hence hormone therapy might work) 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!! This disorder 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.
Currently, there is no treatment available for this disorder. The hysterectomy does not guarantee the final disappearance of the symptoms, as the disorder may occur “spontaneously” in other parts of the body. It is essential to see a doctor early when symptoms of the disorder 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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