Whereas endometriosis is a standard situation, affecting as many as one in each 10 American girls, it’s advanced and infrequently misunderstood. Endometriosis happens when tissue very like the tissue that usually traces the uterus — referred to as the endometrium — begins to develop elsewhere within the physique. These growths might trigger ache, scarring, and, in some situations, infertility.
One examine exhibits it may take as much as seven years for a lady to get a analysis of endometriosis as a result of signs might mimic different widespread circumstances, resembling irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions in regards to the illness, together with the 5 myths under, might maintain some girls from in search of assist. Discuss to your well being care staff when you’re involved about painful durations or different doable symptoms of endometriosis, resembling long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.
5 myths — and the information — about endometriosis
Delusion 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Girls with endometriosis generally assume that their signs are a traditional a part of menstruation, and after they do search assist they’re generally dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However in actual fact, one thing rather more severe is happening than interval cramps. One idea is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is outdoors the uterus, it continues to answer hormonal alerts and produce chemical substances that trigger irritation and ache.
Throughout the course of the menstrual cycle, this endometrium-like tissue thickens and ultimately bleeds. However in contrast to endometrial tissue within the uterus, which is ready to drain via the vagina every month, blood from displaced tissue has nowhere to go. As a substitute, it swimming pools close to the affected organs and tissues, irritating and inflaming them. The result’s ache, and generally the event of scar tissue that may kind an online, fusing organs collectively. This will result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.
Delusion 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The most typical areas for endometriosis growths to happen are throughout the pelvis, resembling 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.
Delusion 3: Endometriosis is all the time painful. Not everybody with endometriosis experiences ache. It’s not unusual for a lady to be taught she has endometriosis solely after she begins investigating why she is having issue getting pregnant. Endometriosis is the main reason for 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 girls with endometriosis are in the end capable of have a toddler.
Delusion 4: Endometriosis will be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there isn’t a recognized technique to stop it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can cut back your danger, in line with the US Workplace of Girls’s Well being. Estrogen can gasoline the expansion of endometriosis and amplify signs. You possibly can cut back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception methodology, dropping pounds in case you are chubby, and getting common train.
Delusion 5: Endometriosis all the time improves after menopause. Though endometriosis signs happen most frequently throughout menstruation, for some girls they final effectively after month-to-month cycles finish. Even after a girl goes via menopause, the ovaries proceed to supply small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths might proceed to answer the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t deliver aid to all. Some girls who’ve gone via menopause might go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nonetheless, these procedures are usually not all the time profitable in controlling ache. Hormonal therapies, too, seem like much less efficient in girls after menopause.
For details about treating endometriosis ache, see this post from the Harvard Well being Weblog.