During National Endometriosis Awareness Month, we cover the basics of this painful disease.
March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, so we want to take a moment to help spread awareness and provide some details about endometriosis. The Endometriosis Association began Endometriosis Awareness Month in 1993. It’s now observed worldwide through activities such as education, fundraising and marches.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that is normally contained inside the uterus begins growing outside the uterus. This causes tissue that should be shed during a monthly period to grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder or other organs. Endometriosis can cause organs and tissue to stick together and can cause inflammation and pain.
Endometriosis affects around 200 million women worldwide and about 1 out of every 10 women in the United States. The disease is often misdiagnosed or missed altogether, according to the Endometriosis Foundation of America. It can affect many ages, including young girls and menopausal women.
What Causes Endometriosis?
The full cause of endometriosis is still unknown, and there are several theories. The Endometriosis Association has spearheaded research since 1992. Research has shown that environmental toxins such as dioxin and PCBs can cause endometriosis. These toxins act like hormones in the body and damage the immune system. Dioxins are toxic chemicals that come from the making and using of pesticides and herbicides as well as hazardous waste incineration and manufacturing plants (plastics, chemical, pulp and paper). Dioxins readily concentrate in the food chain, contaminating animals and fish. Food is the primary source of dioxin exposure for humans.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The most common symptoms endometriosis are:
- Pain in the lower abdomen before and during periods, worse than “normal” period pain
- Pain during or after sexual activity
- Painful urination/bowel movements during periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Other gastrointestinal upsets like diarrhea, constipation and nausea
Additionally, many women with endometriosis develop allergies and frequent yeast infections. Many women with endometriosis also have to deal with a range of immune disorders, including asthma, eczema and certain autoimmune diseases.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis
A diagnosis of endometriosis is considered uncertain until it is proven by laparoscopy, a surgical procedure done with anesthesia. The procedure typically shows the location, size and extent of the growths.
The most common treatments and coping methods include pain medication, hormonal therapy and surgery. Surgery will depend on the severity of the patient. Conservative surgery, like laparoscopy, aims to remove or destroy the growths. Radical surgery, including hysterectomy, may be necessary in severe cases.
While more people know about this condition today than in the past, there’s still a vital demand for greater understanding, especially when it comes to diagnosis and treatment. If you are having endometriosis-like symptoms, call us today. It shouldn’t hurt just to be a woman.