The endometrium is a thin lining on the inside of the womb. During the monthly cycle, it thickens in response to estrogen, a hormone produced by the ovaries.
If there is no pregnancy, the endometrial tissue breaks down and is also discharged along with menstruation, through the vagina.
Nevertheless, in women with endometriosis, endometrial tissues develop outside of the uterus, imitating the monthly hormonal pattern.
However, it has absolutely no way of leaving the body. It cannot be released with menstruation based on the location.
So, it implants itself on any organ available in the pelvic cavity like the uterus, fallopian tube, ovaries or bladder and disturbs the organ’s normal functions.
This medical condition can be diagnosed by making use of physical examination, ultrasound test, or a minor surgical process called laparoscopy. It not only affects a lady’s reproductive health but also her emotional well-being is affected.
In this disorder, the endometrium, mucous membrane lining the uterus, grows on the outer parts of the womb.
The most common sites where endometrial tissue develops outside of the uterus are in organs such as the bladder, ovaries, bowels, and at times, even lurking behind the uterus. Endometrial clumps have also been discovered in the lungs and arms, although this is very rare.
Women in their early thirties are commonly diagnosed with this gynecological situation.
Endometriosis is estimated to affect:
- a) About 20% of reproductive age women with endometriosis present but without any visible symptoms.
- b) About 55% of women who have developed the new onset of severe menstrual cramps
- c) About 25% of women with sub-fertility (less fertile when compared to a normal couple)
Signs of This Debilitating Condition
The level of symptoms varies from individuals to individuals. In most cases, women do not experience any symptoms, even though they suffer from this disorder of the reproductive system.
Some women feel pain that ranges from relatively mild to severe. Pain is especially severe during the menstrual period. The followings are notable indications of this medical condition:
Pain in some parts of the body
Discomfort in the abdomen and pelvic areas and pelvic pain during urination and intercourse are common signs of the existing of endometriosis in women.
Severe menstrual aches
Impaired fertility – In most cases, women affected by this condition have difficulty becoming pregnant. There is some form of impairment in their reproductive system. Infertility may be a solid indicator of the presence of the disorder.
Painful periods are usually associated with endometriosis patients. It subsided usually towards the end of the period.
Sufferers experience severe pains during pelvic assessment by a doctor.
Bowel movements also cause extreme pain to them, fatigue, blood in the stool or urine, diarrhea or constipation, nausea or dizziness and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse are few of the symptoms of endometriosis.
Other symptoms include occasional heavy blood flow during menstruation, patients experience swollen abdomen when endometrial tissues are formed on the bladder or bowel. Some women, especially teens, have persistent pains all the time.
The above symptoms may not necessarily depict absolute presence of endometriosis. A number of other conditions can cause symptoms that are similar to endometriosis. These conditions include painful periods, adenomyosis, and uterine fibroids.
Top Probable Causes of Endometriosis
What causes this female reproductive disorder still remains unknown. Even so, doctors have furnished some theories to make clear probable reasons that may be responsible for the occurrence of this disorder.
The retrograde menstruation theory suggests that during menstruation blood goes backward rather than outward triggering menstrual blood to pass through the fallopian tubes to the pelvic and abdominal cavity, resulting in blood sneaking out on the outside of the uterus into other tissues and organs creating endometriosis.
Weakening of the immune system
Normally, the defense mechanism in the body will destroy endometrial cells which are located outside of the uterus.
If the immune system is weakened and can no longer perform its normal functions, it will allow the endometrial cells that shed to accumulate and develop elsewhere within the body.
But, the immune system of endometriosis patients may not be capable of performing this task and eventually condone the growth of these cells. Sometimes blood circulation may be responsible for moving these devastating endometrial cells to other parts of the body not usually known to be affected.
Stress and emotion
During stress and emotion, the adrenal glands produce cortisol which affects the ability of the body to clean up contaminants or toxins otherwise resulting in stimulating the growth of endometriosis.
This kind of theory suggests that during the embryonic stage, some endometrial cells which normally develop in the womb find their ways out and now develop in the abdominal cavity where it interferes with other body organs.
Sex during menstruation
Intercourse at the time of menstruation triggers the endometriosis tissue to travel into the fallopian tubes then into the ovary resulting in the development of ovarian endometriosis.
Endometriosis happens during reproductive years of women when estrogen and progesterone are most active. In each stage of the menstrual period, estrogen and progesterone must be balanced for women to conceive.
Any kind of imbalance of hormones during the menstrual period ultimately causes changes of estrogen into bad estrogen and over-production of prostaglandin triggering the cervix to contract making it extremely difficult for menstrual blood to escape, resulting in monthly cramps and endometriosis.
Dietary deficiency is also one of the factors that cause hormonal imbalance which may eventually lead to endometriosis.
Endometriosis may be genetics moving from generation to generation or it could be a consequence of genetic errors, making some women to become much more prone to experience the disorder than others.
Study shows that women are 5 times more likely to develop endometriosis if her sister experienced it. It is therefore wise for such women to have children in their early reproductive years than later when the disorder might have set in.
Research shows that exposing our body to toxins found in pesticides and some hazardous waste materials may have some hormonal and chemical influence directly activating endometriosis at the time of menstrual period resulting in proliferation of endo-tissues to the abnormal area in the body.
Interaction of the body with certain chemical substances causes some interference of the human body’s hormones as result of over-production of estrogen triggering xenoestrogen to induce the growth of endometriosis.