Known facts about endometriosis
Endometriosis is a puzzling disease affecting women during
their reproductive years. It is the second most common gynaecological
disorder. Some women have no symptoms whilst others may suffer debilitating
pain even with mild disease.
Endometriosis occurs when the womb lining (endometrium) is found growing in the wrong place, on other organs outside the uterus. This tissue responds to the hormone cycle and sheds blood every month with a period. In endometriosis patients this blood has nowhere to escape and remains in the abdominal cavity where it may cause inflammation and pain. This gives rise to scar tissue and adhesions.
It is commonly found on the ovaries, womb, fallopian tubes, on ligaments supporting the womb, between the womb and the bowel, and other places in the pelvic area. Occasionally it is found in other areas of the body, eg. lung, kidney etc.. It may also grow on surgical scars or form 'chocolate' cysts on the ovaries. Small patches of endometriosis can cause more pain than large growths in some women. The stage of your endometriosis is not linked to the amount of pain.
The disease can also go into remission and disappear for periods of time.
The effects of the disease on a woman's life can be serious and far reaching. Many have had to give up their jobs and restrict their lifestyle and experience difficulty coping with families. Often no real account is taken of their feelings when they are treated for a disease so closely linked with their emotions. Many people disbelieve the level of pain. This can drag you down mentally and physically as your body tries to cope with the pain. It is very important to try to avoid stressful situations as tension affects the ability of the immune system which should function to remove cells growing in the wrong places. Gentle exercise and relaxation techniques aid the release of endorphins (natural painkillers) which also strengthen the immune system.
Endometriosis is known as the 'Disease of Theories.' No one is sure why
this tissue begins to grow in the wrong places.
The most common symptoms sufferers report are:
Symptoms often reported include:
Pain at other times.
Heavy or irregular bleeding.
Constipation and/or diarrhoea.
Pain at urination.
Low energy levels.
Loss of large blood clots.
Loss of stale brown blood.
Endometriosis can be managed in a much more precise fashion if it is diagnosed
early and if the level of severity is correctly evaluated. The problem
for doctors is that your symptoms may mimic many other illnesses and because
of the wide variety of locations for endometriosis, we all exhibit different
You need to be frank and open with your doctor about all your symptoms so that he/she can build up a clear picture. Being shy about some intimate details does not give your GP a clear picture. It is important that you are referred to a gynaecologist who is an endometriosis specialist.
The only definite way to diagnose endometriosis is by a minor operation called a laparoscopy. This involves a one or two day stay in hospital only. A small incision is made in the abdomen which is distended with carbon dioxide gas and a tube is inserted which allows the surgeon to look inside and check if endometriosis is the problem.