Women who are suffering from infertility, or the inability to get pregnant after one year, often find out they have endometriosis. Endometriosis is a health disorder that happens when some of the cells in the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body. This causes cramping in the abdomen, irregular cycles, pain, bleeding throughout their menstrual cycle, and infertility being one of the main adverse side effects of the condition.
Causes of Endometriosis
Endometriosis occurs when the cells in the uterus and endometrium implant and grow outside of the uterus. There is no known reason why this occurs in some women and not others. Women who suffer from endometriosis often have these cell tissue implants on their rectum, bowel, ovaries, bladder and sometimes the lining of the pelvic area. These tissues can bleed throughout the cycle and go away during the woman’s period, but then they will grow back shortly afterward. Some researchers think women with endometrial cells that travel backward through the fallopian tubes they implant in other pelvic areas. Endometriosis is more common in women between 25 and 35 though it can occur at any age. Some women have a higher risk of getting endometriosis including those who had their period at a young age, women who don’t have children, those with frequent periods lasting more than 7 days, and women with a closed hymen.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
There are many different symptoms that might lead someone to being tested for endometriosis. The most common signs and symptoms of endometriosis sufferers are painful periods, pain in the lower abdomen especially before or during menstruation, cramping for a week or two before and after menstruation, pain during sexual intercourse or immediately afterward, pain during bowel movements, and lower back or pelvic pain during any time. While these symptoms are very common in people with endometriosis, some women won’t experience any symptoms at all aside from the inability to get pregnant.
Diagnosing and Treating Endometriosis
Endometriosis can only be officially diagnosed by the doctor performing a pelvic laparoscopy. While this is the only way to get an official diagnosis, they will also perform a pelvic exam, physical exam, and trans-vaginal ultrasound to find other reasons for the pain and discomfort, bleeding, and other symptoms experienced. The treatment for endometriosis varies based on the age of the woman, how bad her symptoms are, if she wants children, and the severity of the condition. Mild symptoms on a woman who doesn’t want children will typically take pain relief medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen and do relaxation techniques. Other treatments include hormonal medications, surgery to remove the endometriosis or parts of the uterus and ovaries, and taking birth control pills for a short period of time.