What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that affects many women globally. It is the abnormal growth of cells in which the tissue that lines inside the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. Mostly, it involves:
- The ovaries
- Fallopian tubes
- The tissue lining the pelvis
In rare cases, the endometrial can spread past pelvic organs. Endometriosis may cause severe pain mainly during your period. But how can you know you are suffering from endometriosis? Normally, you may have endometriosis but experience no symptoms. Although the exact cause of endometriosis is not certain, the following factors put you at a risk of developing endometriosis:
- Retrograde menstruation
- Never giving birth
- Periods commencing at an early age
- Going through menopause at an older age
- Short menstrual cycle
- Higher levels of estrogen in the body
- Low body mass index
- Consumption of alcohol
- If your relatives (mother, sister, and aunt) suffer from endometriosis
- Medical conditions that hinders normal passage of menses out of your body
- Uterine abnormalities
What are the stages of endometriosis?
There are four endometriosis stages:
Endometriosis stages chart
In endometriosis stages, a chart is used to describe the extent of endometriosis. In Stages of Endometriosis chart, points are given ranging from one to forty points. The higher the points, the more severe endometriosis is. Stages of endometriosis are classified according to:
- The exact location
- The extent and the depth of endometriosis implants
- Presence and severity of the scar tissue
- Occurrence and size of endometrial implants on the ovaries
Stage 1 (minimal)
Endometriosis Stage one is characterized by a few isolated superficial endometrial implants that can be mistaken for a cyst or ovarian cancer. They are located outside the uterus. The implant resembles small flat patches on the pelvic surface. The implants cause irritation and inflammation in the surrounding tissues, causing adhesions. An adhesion binds the tissues as well as organs that are mobile, causing pain. Stage 1 endometriosis symptoms include:
- Painful periods
- Pain during intercourse and after
- Pain while urinating
Stage 2 (mild)
When it comes to stage 2 endometriosis (mild), the attributes of stage one are present in endometriosis stage 2 as well. However, the attributes are more aggressive. The stage is characterized by deeper implants and a small number of very mild adhesions. There is the presence of black spots over the adhesions which have managed to grow in intensity and can cause irritation during ovulation or pelvic pain. Lesions appear between the rectum and uterus (Recto uterine pouch).
Stage 3 (moderate)
Numerous implants characterize stage 3 endometriosis, endometriomas also known as chocolate cysts on one or both the ovaries. Cysts may rupture, and it can cause abdominal pain and inflammation mainly in the pelvic region. Inflammation and infection make adhesion to increase in numbers. There is a relationship between chocolate cysts and adhesions. As chocolate cysts grow in number, adhesions form in response. In the 3rd stage, the disease is already advanced. Stage 3 endometriosis symptoms include the symptoms in stage 1 as well as the following:
- Difficulty becoming pregnant
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Abnormal or heavy bleeding during periods
- Ovulation pain
Stage 4 (severe)
What is stage 4 stage endometriosis? Stage 4 endometriosis is the final stage of endometriosis stages. During this stage, there is the presence of a big number of cysts and severe adhesions. Endometriomas are big. The chocolate cysts are located on the back wall of the uterus and the rectum, a woman may experience constipation. Both fallopian tubes may be blocked. The following are endometriosis stage 4 symptoms such as:
- Painful bowel movements
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Heavy bleeding with or without clots
- Chronic fatigue
The symptoms may vary from woman to woman in the endometriosis stages. A woman may experience many symptoms accompanied by severe pain. On the other hand, another woman may have no pain as well as symptoms. The severity of symptoms depends on the location of endometrial tissue but not the number of endometrial cells growing. Therefore, the above stage 4 endometriosis may be experienced by a woman in stage 3. Symptoms of endometriosis don’t correlate with the stage all the time. For example, a woman in stage 2 may go through extreme pain than a woman in stage 4. Typically, endometriosis goes away after menopause. At any endometriosis stages, pain can be unbearable. As a mother, you can no longer attend to the needs of your young ones. As a Wife, you try to be strong to push through painful sex to be intimate with your spouse. If endometriosis has interfered with your way of life, you need to seek medical intervention.
Stage 4 endometriosis treatment may involve the following:
It is possible through a surgical procedure known as laparoscopy. The surgeon removes the endometriosis growths. You will be released from pain after the procedure.
- Open surgery
Open surgery is a stage 4 treatment in severe cases. A surgeon carries out an open abdominal surgery to remove the endometrial growths. During the procedure, the surgeon may remove the uterus (hysterectomy) still he may remove one or both the ovaries.
- Hormonal therapy
Hormonal therapy includes Lupron, Synarel, and Zoladex to eliminate menstrual periods and reduce endometriosis pain.
Endometriosis may reoccur after the above procedures. And may even be worse than before the procedure. But why? It is because endometriosis does not have any cure. The treatment options available, helps in reducing symptoms and prevent any potential complication. To prevent it from it from reoccurring, it’s advisable to take Lupron, Synarel or Zoladex. Then, undergo surgery.
The above are endometriosis stages well explained. If you have endometriosis, you are not alone; it is a condition that affects women of reproductive age. Once you notice the symptoms seek medical attention; although it can be a challenge to manage the condition. It is advisable you get gynecological exams yearly. An early diagnosis is better so that you can handle the symptoms. The good news is that once you reach menopause, it will disappear. In conclusion, be vigilant about your reproductive health. Remember, endometriosis affects women of childbearing age, and it can cause infertility;infertility is a serious complication! So, take the necessary precautions before its too late.