The endometrium is the tissue that lines the womb (uterus); the lining thickens in response to the female hormones. If no pregnancy has occurred, it is shed as the monthly period.
In endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows outside the womb (i.e: ectopically). Most commonly this occurs on or in the organs that are in the pelvis. In rare cases it can grow in other parts of the body. Each month the ectopic endometriosis responds to the female hormones in a similar way to the womb lining. When this bleeding occurs, it cannot escape, so remains in the pelvic area where it should be absorbed and destroyed by the immune system. Surrounding tissues become engorged and inflamed, and may cause cysts and adhesions, resulting in pain.
Adhesions and cysts can interfere with the function of organs such as ovaries, bowel and bladder, and can reduce a woman's fertility.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Some women have no symptoms. Endometriosis is found during investigation of other problems, such as investigations for infertility, or any other surgical procedures involving the abdomen, i.e: appendicectomy.
Some women have mild symptoms, but others have severe symptoms that interfere with day to day living.
Commonly reported symptoms include:
> Mild/moderate severe pain before/during/after periods
> Mild/moderate/severe pain at ovulation time
> Painful intercourse
> Heavy, prolonged or irregular bleeding
> Loss of large clots
> Loss of stale brown blood before and/or after periods
> Bowel problems
> Bladder problems
> Pre-menstrual tension and mood swings
> Low energy levels, lethargy, insomnia
> Pain at any time
> Swollen abdomen
> Low body temperature
Do you have pain that gets worse near your period? So many women that I have spoken to have been diagnosed with endo on their lungs, on the diaphram and so on. Endo can grow anywhere! Here is one post on it, but please search the forum for more about it as I have not kept track.http://pub20.bravenet.com/forum/1696951335/show/806356
The intensity of pain may not relate to the severity of the disease, but probably relates more to where the ectopic endometriosis is located and how deeply it has invaded the tissue. NOT all women experience pain. NOT all women are infertile. So far there is no accepted explanation for this phenomenon.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
The only certain way is by a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy, carried out under a general anaesthetic, and usually requiring an overnight stay in hospital.
Symptoms may point to endometriosis, but you should have a definite diagnosis before starting treatment.
What are the treatments for endometriosis?
> Laparoscopy - on operation in which a tiny incision is made near the tummy button. Special gas is used to distend the abdomen, and a tube with a light is used to inspect the organs in the pelvis. Laser beams, diathermy instruments and special scissors may be used to destroy deposits of endometriosis and separate adhesions.
> Hysterectomy - the removal of the womb and often the cervix.
> Salpingectomy - removal of one or both fallopian tubes.
> Oopherectomy - removal of one or both ovaries.
> Wedge resection of ovaries - cutting out part of the ovary and conserving the remaining healthy tissue.
Medical treatments: also see the medical treatments page on this site.
These aim to produce a pseudo (false) pregnancy or artificial menopause. They work by preventing ovulation, thus stopping the rise and fall of the hormone levels each month. Without this cycle the endometriosis should not continue to develop. Although hormones are often successful, sometimes they do not work, and for some women the side effects can be unacceptable.
Commonly used hormones are:
Danol (Danazol); Dimetriose (Gestrinone); DLPA; Duphaston (Dydrogesterone); Mirena Coil (Levonorgestrel); Primolut-N (Norethisterone); Prostap SR (Leuprorelin Acetate); Provera (Medroxyprogesterone Acetate); Suprecur (Buserelin); Synarel (Nafarelin); Utovlan (Norethisterone); Zoladex (Goserelin); and contraceptive pills.
There are many theories about the cause of endometriosis, and these are discussed in full in the endometriosis pamphlet available from The SHE Trust.
These include homeopathy, herbalism, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, nutrition, etc. Further details of how these work and where they can be found are available from The SHE Trust.
Natural treatments: also see the natural treatments page on this site.
Endometriosis can have far-reaching effects on a woman's life. The SHE Trust offers support and information for women with this baffling disease.
Info provided from SHE Trust-Simply Holistic Endometriosis, lots of great info on their site, a non-profit charity. http://www.shetrust.org.uk/
Mission: To offer help, information and support to endometriosis sufferers, and anyone else interested, to be able to make informed choices about conventional, nutritional and complementary therapies available.
Do you need to talk about the trouble you are having or just need to vent?
Leave a message on THE ENDO FORUM!