Endometriosis affects over 5 million women in North America alone, the number of women affected world wide is phenomenal.
Endometriosis is tissue that grows on the surface of organs located in the
pelvic area among other areas in the body. The tissue is much like the
tissue inside of the uterus called the endometrium, this is where endometriosis
derives its name from. It has been called other names such as nodules and
lesions. Common places endometriosis is found in the body are the
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain. This pain can be very
severe at times or it could just be slight pain. The amount of pain does
not directly reflect the amount of endometriosis in the body. Other
symptoms of endometriosis include:
- overactive menstrual period
- pain after sex
- severe cramps
- lower back pain
- bleeding between periods
- pain during bowel movements
- pain while urinating
- pelvic pain
Women who suffer with endometriosis may also experience gastrointestinal
disorder and severe fatigue.
Endometriosis does not target one specific group of women. Young girls
who get their first menstrual cycle and women going through menopause have the
same chance of getting endometriosis. However, if the woman is going
through hormone replacement therapy after menopause her symptoms may continue
for a longer period. It is believed that roughly 10% of women who are at
their reproductive age have endometriosis.
Over 30% of the women with endometriosis experience infertility. This
makes endometriosis one of the top causes of infertility in women. Many
women's endometriosis does not get properly diagnosed until they have trouble
trying to get pregnant. Physicians suggest that these women try to get
pregnant for over six months before the physician will start any course of
treatment for the endometriosis.
Physicians still don't know exactly what causes endometriosis. However,
they have several theories about the causes.
- Retrograde Menstrual Flow - This theory suggests that the tissues
shed when a women is having her menstrual cycle collects in her pelvis.
- Genetics - Scientists believe endometriosis is either inherited or
a result of a genetic disorder. Researchers have not found a specific
gene to prove this theory.
- Estrogen - Estrogen has been linked to promoting the growth of
endometriosis in many women.
- Research is being conducted to determine if endometriosis can be caused by
contact with everyday chemicals.
If the physician suspects that you have endometriosis, they may run tests
such as an ultrasound or an MRI, to try and see the endometriosis, but the only
sure way to find out if you have it is a surgical procedure called a
laparoscopy. I have had several of these procedures myself. They are
outpatient surgery so they are usually performed in same day surgery, unless
there are complications. It was not very painful since the only incision
was right at the bottom of my navel, where my physician inserted the laparoscope
to search for the endometriosis.
Sadly, there is no cure for endometriosis. I have had a complete
hysterectomy and had my ovaries removed and my physician told me that the
endometriosis or its symptoms may return.
Depending on the level of pain experienced by a women suffering from endometriosis, the physician may prescribe something as mild as an
over-the-counter medication or as strong as a narcotic such as Percocet. I
had to be on a stronger dosage of medication due to the fact that I was
experiencing severe pain in my lower abdomen.
Your physician may suggest hormone therapy along with the pain medication if
your endometriosis is located in a small area. The hormones are usually
given in pill form such as:
Ultimately, your physician may suggest surgery. This is often the best
choice for those suffering from severe endometriosis.
Women who suffer from infertility due to endometriosis may have to get
pregnant by in vitro fertilization. The women may have to have a
laparoscopy done to remove the endometriosis before the in vitro fertilization
can be done. This helps increase her chances of becoming pregnant.
Many women who suffer from endometriosis say that the pain went away after
My first experience with endometriosis was at the age of 21, when I was attempting to get pregnant. I would have severe pain during menstrual
cycles and after sex. After exhausting trials of pain medications, my
physician finally decided to proceed with a laparoscopy and removed some of the
endometriosis and shortly thereafter, I was pregnant. I didn't experience
any more problems from the endometriosis until around the age of 26, when I
started having the severe pain with menstrual cycles again.
After years of pain and more trials of medication and more laparoscopies, my gynecologist finally determined at the age of 30 I needed a hysterectomy.
It was a difficult decision for my gynecologist because I was so young and only
had one child. However, I didn't plan on having any other children and was
more than happy to have the hysterectomy, if it would ease my pain. I am
now on hormone replacement therapy, where I take Prometrium and Bellergal at
night and use a hormone cream that I rub on my arm once a day. The cream
and Bellergal help the hot flashes and night sweats and the Prometrium keeps my
hormones in balance.