What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that affects many women. It’s not always serious, but it’s important to understand what can happen because it can impact your health in different ways. In fact, endometriosis can make it difficult to have a baby.

The Basics About Endometriosis

When a woman has this condition, it means the tissue found inside the uterus is also on the outside. It can grow around the ovaries, the intestines, and other areas.

During the menstrual period, the tissue breaks down and causes bleeding. With endometriosis, the tissue on the outside of the uterus does the same thing, but it can’t leave the body with a period. Instead, it can become scar tissue which can create issues with the woman’s ability to get pregnant.

This condition occurs during a woman’s childbearing years, often when she’s still in her 20s. Doctors don’t know what causes endometriosis, but they do know that most women stop showing symptoms after menopause.

The Symptoms Of Endometriosis

Not all women show symptoms of the condition. However, for those that do, the signs are fairly common. They include the following:

  • Pain – this is the most common symptom, and it may occur in your stomach or other areas. The pain may occur before a  period, during, or at other times.
  • Unusual bleeding – women with endometriosis may have heavier periods or they may bleed between their periods or at other times.
  • Difficulty conceiving – some women with no other symptoms will have a problem getting pregnant because of the condition.

Diagnosing Endometriosis

A doctor can diagnose the condition and begin treatment. They will usually begin by asking about your medical history. They will want to know about your periods and other health conditions. The doctor may also ask about family history because the condition can run in women in the same family.

The next step will be a pelvic exam. If it’s apparent that the issue is endometriosis, the doctor will prescribe medication. If you start feeling better, it’s a sign that you do have the medical condition.

To know for certain, you would need to have a laparoscopy. It is a procedure where the doctor uses a lighted tube to see inside your stomach through a small incision. If they see tissue on the outside of your uterus or other organs, it can be removed.

Treatment and Cure for Endometriosis

There isn’t a cure for this condition, but it can be managed by treatment. Medication is often given to help manage the pain. However, surgery is the best option for those who want to get pregnant and are unable to.

For those with mild symptoms, over-the-counter medications may be all that’s necessary. Women can take ibuprofen or other pain medications. They may need something stronger if the pain is more severe. This includes hormone therapy and birth control pills.

In the most serious cases, a doctor may recommend a hysterectomy. However, this removes the option of getting pregnant, so it’s an option which is usually seen as a last resort.

Increased Risk for Endometriosis

Certain things can increase the risk for developing this condition. Most of these factors are beyond a woman’s control. However, it helps to be aware of them. They include the following:

  •        Age – you are past puberty but haven’t experienced menopause
  •        Family history – your mom or sister has had this condition
  •        Your menstrual cycle – your period is longer than 7 days and the cycle is less than 28 days
  •        Start of menstruation – it occurred before you were 12
  •        You haven’t been pregnant
  •        Your uterus has an unusual shape

While this diagnosis can be frustrating and painful, treatment can allow a woman to enjoy life and become pregnant.