Endometriosis can basically be described as a medical condition whereby there is an abnormal growth of endometrial tissue: similar to that that which lines the interior of the uterus, in a location other than the uterus. The endometrial tissue is usually shed once a month during menstruation. As a norm, endometriosis affects women during their reproductive years with some of the areas most affected being the lining of the pelvic cavity, bowel, uterus, pelvic and even the fallopian tubes.
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known but there is a common belief that the areas surrounding the pelvic organs possess primitive cells which are able to change to other types of tissues such as endometrium in a process known as coelomic metaplasia.
Accidental transfer of endometrial tissues during surgical procedures: such as cesarean section, to different locations can also endometriosis.
What are the signs and symptoms of endometriosis?
Most women with this condition have no symptoms. However, when women do experience symptoms they usually include pelvic pain which worsens during menstruation, painful intercourse, painful bowel movement and most commonly: infertility.
How is it diagnosed?
This medical condition is usually diagnosed based on the symptom pattern being experienced but for a conclusive diagnosis to be made, a laparoscopy has to be carried out.
How is endometriosis treated?
There is no cure for this medical condition but as a norm, endometriosis treatment is usually aimed at helping with the pain and infertility associated with this condition. The following is an overview of some of the options available when it comes to endometriosis treatment.
1) Pain medication
Pain medication forms an integral part of the endometriosis treatment program. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort due to this condition, a doctor will generally recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help ease the pain.
2) Hormone therapy
Hormone therapy is also a viable option when it comes to the treatment of this medical condition. The rise and fall of hormones in the human body during menstruation will cause the endometrial implants to thicken and eventually breakdown and bleed. Hormone therapy helps to slow down the growth of endometrial tissue and eventually prevent new implants.
Some of the hormone therapies used for this include hormonal contraceptives, GnRH agonists and GnRH antagonist and progestin therapy. However, it is important to note that hormonal therapy is not a permanent solution for this medical condition as the symptoms might come back once an individual stops the treatment.
3) Conservative surgery
Conservative surgery is usually carried out for individuals who might wish to get pregnant. As a norm, surgery is usually carried out to remove as much of endometriosis tissue as possible while preserving the uterus and ovaries. This will in turn greatly increase the chances of conception.
4) Infertility treatments
For individuals who might be having this medical condition and might wish to conceive, infertility treatments are another viable option. Vitro fertilization and insemination coupled with fertility drugs are some of the options one can choose from
This is usually the last option when it comes to the treatment of this condition. It is usually recommended for severe cases and involves removal of the uterus and ovaries