What Is The Main Cause Of Endometriosis?
While there have been many medical breakthroughs in treatments for Endometriosis, much is not known on what is the main cause of endometriosis? There are still questions on the main cause of this condition.
During a woman’s regular cycle, if she does not become pregnant, her body will shed built-up uterine tissue and the menstrual cycle will begin. This process is caused by hormonal changes that occur monthly in a women’s body. The tissue that builds up each month is called, endometrium, which is how the name endometriosis came to be.
What is Endometriosis?
This condition affects women ages 25-40 years of age. Endometriosis occurs when the inner tissue of the uterus forms and attaches itself to the outer uterine walls causing scarring. Just as a women’s inner uterine walls shed the built-up tissue, the outer uterine walls will want to shed the tissue also. The process that occurs outside of the uterus will lead to inflammation, swelling, and ultimately scarring of the normal tissue surrounding the area, which causes endometriosis pain.
Cause of Endometriosis
It is still unknown what the actual cause of the condition is. But there are several theories on what causes endometriosis. One theory is that during a woman’s menstrual cycle, some of the tissue being shed backs up into the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen, where the tissue will attach itself and grow. Another theory that is believed, is that some of the endometrial tissue will travel through the blood and lymph system and then implant itself, much the same way as cancer does. Another popular theory is that cells located anywhere in the body may transform themselves into endometrial cells.
Endometriosis can also occur as a direct result of surgery, such as a cesarean section. There have also been some findings that some women are more predisposed to this disease due to genetics.
Risks of Endometriosis
We still can’t answer the question, “What is the main cause of endometriosis?” What we can do is examine the risk factors. Any woman can develop this condition, but there are some women that are in a higher risk category:
If a mother, sister, or daughter has this condition, the women directly related to them have a higher chance of developing endometriosis.
Child Bearing Age
Women bearing children later in life, typically over 30 years of age are at higher risk for endometriosis.
Women with an abnormal uterus are also more likely to develop endometriosis.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Every woman’s body is different, and they may experience all or none of the common endometriosis symptoms.
Symptoms could include:
Menstrual cramps that are a lot stronger than usual, normally in the lower back and/or abdomen are a common symptom.
Abnormally heavy menstrual flow can be a warning sign.
Pain During Sex
Endometriosis can be the reason for experiencing pain during intercourse.
Infertility can result in women who suffer with endometriosis.
Urination and Bowel Movement Pain
During their periods, women with endometriosis could have pain when urinating or having a bowel movement.
These could include constipation, diarrhea, and even nausea.
Something to keep in mind is that the level of pain experienced does not necessarily gauge the progression of the disease. While some women experiencing excruciating pain may actually have a milder case of the disease and other women with no pain may find they have severe endometriosis.
Endometriosis and Infertility
Endometriosis is one of the major causes of infertility and can be found in 24-50 percent of women who have experienced infertility. In cases of mild to moderate endometriosis, this condition may be temporary and surgery to remove cysts or scar tissue can restore fertility. In a small percentage of women, their infertility is irreversible.
It is still unclear how endometriosis affects fertility, but it is believed that scar tissue plays a huge role in the releasing and transport of the egg. Another theory is that endometriosis changes the uterine environment for the egg and the uterus is no longer ideal for establishment.
A gynecologist or health care provider can reach a diagnosis through medical history and a physical examination. There are several procedures that a doctor will perform in order to better diagnose the patients’ symptoms. Laparoscopy, a minor surgical procedure, where a small tube with a camera attached at the end is inserted through the abdomen is common to determine the placement, size, and progress of endometrial growth. Tissue that is suspect will be biopsied during the procedure. The tissue that is collected is examined under a microscope. A biopsy is the best way to definitively diagnose endometriosis.
There are several other non-invasive exams that might be used to diagnose endometriosis including ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans.
Your doctor will have to take several factors into consideration when deciding on an endometriosis treatment plan, including:
- Medical history and health
- Progression of the disease
- Ability to tolerate available medication, therapies, and procedures
- Desire for children and future pregnancy
- Expected course of the disease
- Personal preferences
Common endometriosis treatments may include the following:
- Watch and observe the progression of the disease
- Over-the-counter analgesics or anti-inflammatory (non-steroid) drugs to help manage pain
Most physicians generally agree that no additional treatment other than pain medication is required for mild symptoms.
- Contraceptives (oral with estrogen and progestin)
- Progestin (by itself)
- Synthetic testosterone (danazol)
- Medically induced menopause (gonadotropin-releasing hormone)
Your doctor might decide that surgery is needed for treatment, techniques could include:
- Laparoscopy for Diagnosis and Treatment. A minor procedure that includes a small lens and lights inserted in the abdomen to look at the pelvic area.
- Laparotomy. Surgery conducted to remove as much of the damaged tissue that is out of place, while keeping healthy tissue intact.
- Hysterectomy. Surgery conducted to remove the uterus and, if needed, ovaries.
The following could help in easing the pain that comes with endometriosis:
- Rest, relaxation and meditation
- Constipation prevention
- Exercise regularly
- Warm baths
- Heating pad or hot water bottle applied to abdomen
Many times, several methods in combination are needed for the treatment of endometriosis and the pain it can bring.
Some women find relief with alternative methods of treatment used either by themselves or in concert with medical and/or surgical treatments. Such as:
- Chinese Medicine (Traditional)
- Homeopathic Remedies
- Managing allergies
- Therapy for the immune system
These treatments do not work for everyone, and it is important to discuss each option with your doctor(s) to ensure that a particular treatment does not counteract another treatment you may be using.
Endometriosis & Treatments
Everyone is unique. What works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. With all that is known about endometriosis and the treatments that are available, there is no reason for any woman to suffer needlessly from endometriosis pain.