Whereas endometriosis is a standard situation, affecting as many as one in each 10 American girls, it’s advanced and sometimes misunderstood. Endometriosis happens when tissue very similar to the tissue that usually strains the uterus — referred to as the endometrium — begins to develop elsewhere within the physique. These growths might trigger ache, scarring, and, in some cases, infertility.
One examine exhibits it may possibly take as much as seven years for a girl to get a prognosis of endometriosis as a result of signs might mimic different widespread situations, similar to irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions in regards to the illness, together with the 5 myths under, might preserve some girls from in search of assist. Discuss to your well being care group when you’re involved about painful durations or different doable symptoms of endometriosis, similar to long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.
5 myths — and the information — about endometriosis
Fantasy 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Ladies with endometriosis typically assume that their signs are a standard a part of menstruation, and once they do search assist they’re typically dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However in reality, one thing way more critical is happening than interval cramps. One concept is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is outdoors the uterus, it continues to reply to hormonal alerts and produce chemical compounds that trigger irritation and ache.
Throughout the course of the menstrual cycle, this endometrium-like tissue thickens and finally bleeds. However in contrast to endometrial tissue within the uterus, which is ready to drain by way of the vagina every month, blood from displaced tissue has nowhere to go. As an alternative, it swimming pools close to the affected organs and tissues, irritating and inflaming them. The result’s ache, and typically the event of scar tissue that may type an online, fusing organs collectively. This may increasingly result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.
Fantasy 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The commonest areas for endometriosis growths to happen are inside the pelvis, similar to on the outer floor of the uterus, the bladder, and the fallopian tubes. However endometriosis might happen anyplace within the physique. Not often, endometrium-like tissue has been discovered within the lungs, for instance.
Fantasy 3: Endometriosis is at all times painful. Not everybody with endometriosis experiences ache. It’s not unusual for a girl to be taught she has endometriosis solely after she begins investigating why she is having problem getting pregnant. Endometriosis is the main reason behind infertility in the US. Having the situation additionally will increase the chance of miscarriage and different issues in being pregnant. Nonetheless, the excellent news is that the overwhelming majority of ladies with endometriosis are finally in a position to have a toddler.
Fantasy 4: Endometriosis may be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there is no such thing as a identified approach to forestall it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can scale back your threat, based on the US Workplace of Ladies’s Well being. Estrogen can gas the expansion of endometriosis and amplify signs. You may scale back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception methodology, losing a few pounds if you’re chubby, and getting common train.
Fantasy 5: Endometriosis at all times improves after menopause. Though endometriosis signs happen most frequently throughout menstruation, for some girls they final properly after month-to-month cycles finish. Even after a lady goes by way of menopause, the ovaries proceed to provide small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths might proceed to reply to the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t convey reduction to all. Some girls who’ve gone by way of menopause might go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nonetheless, these procedures aren’t at all times profitable in controlling ache. Hormonal therapies, too, look like much less efficient in girls after menopause.
For details about treating endometriosis ache, see this post from the Harvard Well being Weblog.