Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus, grows outside of its normal location. The problem is that its usual processes of thickening, shedding, and bleeding still occur, but this section of endometrial tissue is suddenly trapped without anywhere to go. It therefore causes inflammation in its new location.
According to the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), endometriosis is estimated to affect more than 11% of all American females who are between the ages of 15 and 44. This condition makes it very difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
Endometriosis Signs and Symptoms
Endometriosis can cause a number of symptoms, including the following:
- Extremely painful menstrual cramps
- Painful intercourse
- Fertility issues
- Severe back pain during menstruation
- Painful bowel movements
- Heavy periods
- Frequent spotting between periods
- Digestive problems
There is no correlation between the severity of the condition and the symptoms it causes. Endometriosis is often mistaken as irritable bowel syndrome.
Common Sites for Endometriosis
If a woman has endometriosis, her endometrial tissue can be found virtually anywhere in the body and can cause symptoms there. However, it does tend to appear more often in certain areas than in others, particularly in the following areas:
- Fallopian tubes
- Pelvic cavity
- Outer side of the uterus
- Anterior space between the uterus and the bladder
- Posterior space between the uterus and the rectum
These misguided endometrial cells have even been found in the intestines and the lungs. Do not be surprised if your doctor reports that you have endometrial tissue growing in a very unusual place.
How Does Endometriosis Happen?
The exact cause of endometriosis is still unknown. One theory is that, during menstruation, some tissue from the uterus backs up into the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen in a sort of reverse menstruation.
Another theory is that other cells in the body mutate and become endometrial cells. A third possibility is that endometrial cells travel to the new location via the bloodstream and lymphatic system – which is the same process by which cancer spreads.
The management of pain is often the main focus of treatment for this condition. A reduction or elimination of the related pain can be achieved by taking prescription pain medications, hormone therapy, or having surgery – which often involves a partial or full hysterectomy.
The hormone therapy stops the ovaries from producing eggs, and this is an effort to stop the endometrial tissue from forming. Some women who choose this option must continue receiving treatment protocols for their entire life in order to prevent symptoms from recurring, while other women only require this therapy for a few years.
If a woman’s goal of treatment for endometriosis is to regain fertility, in vitro fertilization or assisted reproductive technology (ART) may be performed. An embryo is implanted by a doctor into the woman’s uterine lining in an attempt to create a pregnancy.
Experienced Doctors in Wooster, Ohio
If you have abdominal pain or unusual symptoms and are wondering whether you might have endometriosis, schedule an appointment with our skilled medical team at Wooster Community Hospital. Our comprehensive facility can provide you with a fast diagnosis and quick treatment to help you feel better soon.
Contact us today by calling (330) 263-8100 or request an appointment online now, and get the treatment you need so you can get back to enjoying life again.