Endometriosis: Symptoms and Risk Factors

Endometriosis, or chocolate cysts, is a condition that most commonly affects women during their reproductive years. Endometriosis is a disorder in which the endometrium (tissue lining a woman’s uterus) grows outside the uterus. If the displaced endometrial tissue becomes lodged on the ovaries, blood during the menstrual cycle becomes trapped and has nowhere to go, thus accumulating more and more until it forms cysts.

Early detection and treatment is always the best solution before the condition becomes more dangerous or debilitating.

Symptoms

As far as the symptoms, women who have endometriosis, will often experience the following:

  • Very painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), increasing in pain until they become almost unbearable and require painkillers and/or until their work schedule or daily life and activities are impeded.
  • Some women experience pain in other parts of the body as well, for example, pain in the lower back and and pelvic area.
  • Flatulence, constipation, bloating, fatigue or diarrhea
  • Some women also experience deep pain in the uterus or lower abdomen during sexual intercourse; this symptom is called dyspareunia.
  • Occasional heavy periods or excessive bleeding between periods
  • Infertility
  • Pain during urination or movement of the bowels

Causes

Endometriosis can be caused by:

  • Retrograde menstruation – menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and deposits the tissue in various locations, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, intestines, or other tissues attached to the uterus.
  • Immune system disorders – due to a problem with the immune system, the body might not recognize the endometriosis tissue growing outside the uterus and seeks to destroy it.
  • Surgical scar implantation – endometrial cells can attach themselves to incisions caused by surgery, such as a c-section or a hysterectomy.
  • Endometrial cell transport – the lymphatic system and blood vessels can transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
  • Embryonic cell growth – endometriosis can develop from small areas of the abdominal lining, which come from embryonic cells.

Risk Factors

Women who are at risk of developing endometriosis are as follows:

  • Women who have never given birth
  • Women with a family history of endometriosis
  • Women with medical conditions that prevent menstrual blood from flowing out of the body normally
  • Women with a history of pelvic infections
  • Women with uterine abnormalities

It is advisable for women who fall into these categories to get tested for endometriosis.

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Diagnosis and Treatment

Endometriosis, while often not considered a serious disease, should not be left untreated, as it certainly causes pain and discomfort and disturbs one’s daily life and activities. Early detection is key for treatment and recovery. Learn more about diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis by clicking here.

Learn more about minimally invasive surgery and packages at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital. 

References:

  1. Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis. Available from http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/1015/p1753.html#afp19991015p1753-b27. Accessed on July 15, 2016.
  2. Endometriosis. Available from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/basics/treatment/con-20013968. Accessed on July 15, 2016.
  3. Getting Diagnosed with Endometriosis. Available from https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/getting-diagnosed-endometriosis. Accessed on July 15, 2016.
  4. Endometriosis. Available from http://www.webmd.com/women/endometriosis/endometriosis-exams-and-tests. Accessed on July 15, 2016.

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