Causes And Symptoms Of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a painful disease that affects thousands of woman each year and may even prevent them from knowing the joy of pregnancy and birth.

According to the Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10 to 15 percent of all women in the United States suffer from the condition know as endometriosis. Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrial tissue - the same tissue found inside the uterus - is located in various locations throughout a woman's pelvic area or abdominal wall. These areas include the outside of the uterus, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the abdominal wall, the umbilicus, bladder, colon and various cul-de-sacs that occur between organs.

Just as the tissue inside the uterus builds up a lining to prepare for pregnancy, the tissue outside the uterus goes through the same process. As a result, during the time of menses, the lining - both inside and outside of the uterus - is discharged. However, as the tissue outside the uterus has no way to flow out of the body, it remains inside the abdomen causing discomfort and pain.

As there is no solid scientific evidence as to what causes endometriosis, physicians and specialist can only speculate as to its presence. Several theories related to the development of endometriosis include microscopic tears in the uterine wall either during or after a pregnancy, uterine perforation during an abortion procedure, hormone imbalances causing the development of excess tissue or tissue alteration by means unknown.

The signs and symptoms of endometriosis include painful menses, pain with sexual intercourse, lower back or abdominal pain, sterility and constipation. In advanced cases of endometriosis, pain of the bladder, kidneys and bowel may become evident as well. The pain associated with endometriosis can be a constant pain or could be cyclic - coming in cycles associated with the cycles of menstruation.

Endometriosis can have a negative effect on a woman's ability to conceive a child. As the endometrial tissue may be attached to or surrounding organs required in the reproductive process - the fallopian tubes and ovaries - these organs may develop adhesions, which can prevent proper egg movement, deposition into the uterus or fertilization.

It is suspected that the estimated number of women who suffer from endometriosis is much higher then the statistics show. Due to the need for invasive procedures - such as laparoscopy - to obtain a definitive diagnosis, medical professionals and women who are suspected to have endometriosis may decide to treat the signs and symptoms instead of electing for the diagnosis procedures. As most physicians can make a suspected diagnosis, treatment of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis can begin immediately. However, aggressive treatment for the disease itself cannot begin without a concrete diagnosis including medical findings via invasive procedures.

Treatment options available for endometriosis are determined by the severity, placement and the need to protect a woman's ability to conceive a child. As all treatment options for endometriosis are only those of management, they will not cure the disease or ensure that it will not return. Current treatments available include estrogen suppressant medications and surgery in conjunction with pain management. In light to moderate cases of endometriosis, medications that suppress the body's amount of estrogen - the hormone thought to "feed" endometriosis - offering relief from abdominal pressure, bleeding and pain. In moderate to severe cases, medical professionals may opt to perform surgery to remove all or part of the organs contributing to or affected by the endometriosis. As removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is common in severe cases of endometriosis, thus removing the source of estrogen to a woman's body, a smaller, more manageable amount of estrogen replacement hormone will be offered to prevent bone loss but maintain the level of relief from the signs and symptoms of endometriosis. Women who want to protect their ability to conceive will forego the option of surgery as treatment and opt to estrogen replacement therapy and pain management.

Endometriosis can be a serious disease affecting a woman's ability to bear children, to work, to spend time with her family or to enjoy the life she has. With proper medical treatment and maintenance of pain, a woman can regain control over her body - and her life.

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