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 similar to the tissue that usually strains the uterus — referred to as the endometrium — begins to develop elsewhere within the physique. These growths might trigger ache, scarring, and, in some cases, infertility.
One examine reveals it might probably take as much as seven years for a lady to get a prognosis of endometriosis as a result of signs might mimic different widespread situations, equivalent to irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions concerning the illness, together with the 5 myths beneath, might hold some girls from looking for assist. Speak to your well being care staff for those who’re involved about painful durations or different potential symptoms of endometriosis, equivalent to long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.
5 myths — and the info — about endometriosis
Fable 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Girls with endometriosis typically assume that their signs are a standard a part of menstruation, and once they do search assist they’re typically dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However in truth, one thing way more severe is happening than interval cramps. One concept is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is exterior the uterus, it continues to reply to hormonal alerts and produce chemical compounds that trigger irritation and ache.
Throughout the course of the menstrual cycle, this endometrium-like tissue thickens and ultimately bleeds. However not like endometrial tissue within the uterus, which is ready to drain by means of 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 typically the event of scar tissue that may kind an internet, fusing organs collectively. This will result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.
Fable 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The commonest areas for endometriosis growths to happen are inside the pelvis, equivalent to on the outer floor of the uterus, the bladder, and the fallopian tubes. However endometriosis might happen wherever within the physique. Hardly ever, endometrium-like tissue has been discovered within the lungs, for instance.
Fable 3: Endometriosis is at all times painful. Not everybody with endometriosis experiences ache. It’s not unusual for a lady to study she has endometriosis solely after she begins investigating why she is having issue getting pregnant. Endometriosis is the main explanation for infertility in the USA. Having the situation additionally will increase the chance of miscarriage and different issues in being pregnant. Nevertheless, the excellent news is that the overwhelming majority of girls with endometriosis are finally in a position to have a toddler.
Fable 4: Endometriosis may be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there is no such thing as a identified technique to forestall it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can scale back your danger, based on the US Workplace of Girls’s Well being. Estrogen can gasoline the expansion of endometriosis and enlarge signs. You’ll be able to scale back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception methodology, shedding pounds in case you are chubby, and getting common train.
Fable 5: Endometriosis at all times improves after menopause. Though endometriosis signs happen most frequently throughout menstruation, for some girls they final properly after month-to-month cycles finish. Even after a lady goes by means of menopause, the ovaries proceed to provide small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths might proceed to reply to the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t convey aid to all. Some girls who’ve gone by means of menopause might go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nevertheless, these procedures should not at all times 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.