What is It? | What
Causes It? | Who can get it? | What
are the symptoms? |
How is it diagnosed? | What is the treatment?
NOTE: I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one. This information is purely for informative purposes. It's not the gospel, so please feel free to do further research and compare the information you receive.
The lining of the
uterus is called the endometrium. Each month, during a woman's cycle,
the endometrium responds to hormones that tell it to thicken with blood.
This is to prepare it for a fertilized egg. If no fertilized egg
presents itself, the endometrium sheds itself during what we call a "period."
Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium is found outside of the uterus.
It can be found on the outer layer of the uterus, the ovaries, fallopian
tubes, sometimes even in the lungs, although this is rare. The endometrium
in these sites reacts to the same hormones and goes through the same process.
However, when it is time to shed, it has no way to exit the body.
A woman with endometriosis often, although not always, feels pain in her
pelvis when these "rogue" endometrium tissues swell and try to exit.
Afterall, they aren't where they are supposed to be (shame on them!).
In more advanced stages of endometriosis, the tissue around the endometrium
may scar and cause adhesions. It is this scarring of the tissue that
may cause infertility, depending on where the adhesions are and how severe
No one really knows. However, there are several theories, none of which have been proven. Here are two of the more popular.
can get it?
I've heard various statistics on this. I've heard 1 in 4 will have it, I've also heard 1 in 7. Although there is no proof the endo is hereditary, those who have a first degree relative with endo are at a higher risk. Endo is not discriminatory. At one time it was thought that only upper-class caucasian women got it. Later it was called "the working woman's disease" (because doctors and employers thought they were trying to get out of work by complaining of pain). We now know, though, that any woman of child-bearing age can develop endo.
are the symptoms?
Not every woman will
experience all of these symptoms. Some will experience some, others more,
some none at all.
is endo diagnosed?
The only accurate way to diagnose endo is through a surgical procedure called laparascopy. An ultra-sound will not show endometrial tissue. Believe me, I had two ultrasounds and they showed nada.
Laparoscopy is a
simple out-patient procedure. You will be put under a general anasthesia.
After surgery you will be allowed to recover in a room for those having out-patient surgery. You will be allowed to go home later that day. For a better idea of what to expect before, during and after surgery, see the surgery tips page.
Endo is categorized
into four stages. These are currently under review, but for now they
is the treatment?
First you should know that there is no cure for endo, only treatment. If you doctor has removed the endo, it may never come back again, but there's no guarantee.
Treatments for endo
are varied. Your treatment will depend on the stage you are diagnosed
at and other factors. Treatments include:
Your doctor may suggest that becoming pregnant is a "cure". Although your symptoms may be relieved by the pause in your menstruation and be lessened afterwards, again, there's no guarantee that this will "cure" endo. Also, a hysterectomy is not a cure for endo. Although the uterus may be gone, the endometria can still be present. Many women who have had a hysterectomy have had endo recur. Be concerned if your doctor immediately suggests a hysterectomy as treatment. (This happened to my best friend when she was 19. Fortunately she didn't listen and she's now with another doctor who's a little smarter.)
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