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Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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We asked Drishti Poojari, an MBA student, who was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 22, to share her endo story with us. We loved the message she gave out to young girls (not to mention the sass) in her conversation. So here we are relaying the same message to you, our precious readers! 😊

“Ladies and all the men (who think we just throw tantrums about nothing), let’s get one thing straight: Period pain is not normal. Now don’t get too worked up! We all experience some discomfort during our periods, and we do have a few days of painful period cramps. But if you’re having consistently painful periods where the pain is so unbearable that you have to take a day off work or lie in your bed all day, you may be experiencing endometriosis.

My old family doctor brushed it off saying: ‘The pain can’t be that much since all women are going through it and you should get used to it because it will be there for the rest of your life.’ And I suffered with my endometriosis for twelve years thinking super-painful periods are normal.

One of these days I’m going to get my hands on him and have my sweet revenge…”

Whether you are concerned that you might have endometriosis, or you’ve just been diagnosed with endometriosis, or worried someone you know might have it, you’ll discover everything you need to know about endometriosis right here in our blog.

What is Endometriosis?

Trying to pronounce this name can be a pain, but the concept behind it is really easy to understand. The word endometriosis is derived from the word endometrium – meaning the inner lining of the uterus.

The cells that make up endometrium have a very specific task to perform: Build up during the early phases of your menstrual cycle in hopes of becoming a home for a fertilized ovum (fetus or baby). No baby? The endometrium detaches itself from the uterus and leaves the body through the vaginal bleeding during periods.

But sometimes, these endometrium cells find their way out of the uterus and build a new home on your ovaries, bowel, and tissue lining your pelvis. This condition is known as endometriosis.

There they grow, build up, and detach themselves just like your normal endometrium tissues do during periods. But unlike your normal endometrium tissues, these tissues and the blood from the bleeding when they detach themselves have no place to go. Instead, they get trapped in your pelvis, irritating the surface of the internal organs and causing pain and swelling. This also leads to scar formation, lesion tissues (abnormal tissues) and adhesions (organs bind together) resulting in inflammation, scarring, cyst formation, and even more pain.

What are the Causes of Endometriosis?

Though endometriosis is pretty common, the exact cause of endometriosis isn’t known. But here are some potential causes/theories experts believe to be true:

Retrograde menstruation

Your menstrual blood flows back through your fallopian tubes and into your pelvic cavity instead of leaving your body.

Hormones

Your hormones transform the cells outside the uterus into endometrial cells.

Embryonic cells

Cells in your abdomen grow from embryonic cells, and embryonic cells can shape and act like endometrial cells. So, they might be cosplaying as endometrial tissues every now and then?

Surgical scar

Menstrual blood leaks into the pelvic cavity through scars from C-section and other surgeries.

Birth defects

Endometrial tissues are out-of-place right from the fetal stage (when you were in your mother’s womb) and respond to hormones during puberty.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

The symptoms of endometriosis are just pain – in different areas, and in varying degrees. Here are some symptoms you can expect with endometriosis:

  • Painful periods
  • Cramps 1 or 2 weeks before periods
  • Heavy and abnormal periods
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Abdominal or lower back pain
  • Bloating
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Infertility

Endometriosis can be easily misdiagnosed so it’s important that you keep a close watch over your symptoms and report it to your doctor.

Endometriosis Diagnosis: How is Endometriosis Diagnosed

So now you’re with your doctor, and you both suspect you might have endometriosis. Here’s what happens next and how your endometriosis diagnosis will be done:

Health history

First, your doctor will have detailed questions about your health and medical history.

Pelvic Exam

Then your doctor will do a pelvic exam, inserting two fingers into your vagina and feeling for any organs that feel like they’re stuck together.

Ultrasound

Next, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound test to detect endometriosis.

MRI

Sometimes, your doctor might recommend MRI to rule out other possible medical conditions.

Laparoscopy

The sure-fire way to confirm you have endometriosis is by viewing it directly, and laparoscopy allows your doctor to do just that. A small cut is made in your abdomen and a long, thin instrument with a camera is inserted allowing your doctor to visually see what’s inside and take tissue samples.

Endometriosis Treatment Options

Currently, there’s no cure for endometriosis, but various treatment options may help manage symptoms of endometriosis. They include:

Hormonal treatment

Hormonal therapy helps regulate hormonal changes that promote the tissue growth of endometriosis. However, hormonal therapy cannot repair adhesions or improve fertility. Some common hormonal therapy includes:

  • Birth control pills, rings, and patches
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) medications
  • Danazol medication
  • Progestin-only contraceptives

Pain medications

Your doctor might prescribe over-the-counter medications simply to manage pain. If it doesn’t work, your doctor might prescribe stronger drugs.

Surgery

Your doctor might recommend surgery when other treatments do not work to remove as much of the affected tissue as possible. In most cases, surgery is also done with laparoscopy.

However, in most severe cases, a surgery called hysterectomy to take out your ovaries, uterus, and cervix becomes necessary. But without the mentioned organs, you won’t be able to get pregnant later.

RIO Heavy Flow Sanitary Pads – The Best Option for Endometriosis

Sanitary pads are the simplest and most pain-free option to help in dealing with endometriosis a little easier. RIO Heavy Flow Sanitary Pads are particularly great for those days when a regular sanitary pad fails to give you the comfort you need during periods. RIO Heavy Flow Pads are thicker, longer and absorb 3x the amount of blood as regular pads. They have double wings and side flow-lock guards that hold blood inside and avoid any sort of trickling out. One of the major concerns endometriosis patients face is heavy flow and the leakage and staining caused by it. It is best to use RIO Heavy Flow Pads or such specialized products to help control such emergencies.

And like every other disease and condition out there, lifestyle changes can help endometriosis too. Follow an endometriosis-friendly diet, exercise regularly, and manage stres

And remember, like Drishti said, consistent painful periods year after year is not normal. Don’t pay attention to the people who call it a part of being a woman and give you the brilliant idea of getting used to it. Pay attention to your body, and if you’re feeling any pain that concerns you, go see your doctor. And if you have any more doubts, reach out to us, the comment section is right below. ☺

FAQS Related to Endometriosis

1. What happens when a woman has endometriosis?

Endometriosis can cause painful period cramps, cramps one or two weeks before periods, bleeding between periods, abdominal or lower back pain, painful sexual intercourse, bloating, and painful bowel movements. Over time it can also affect a woman’s fertility if left untreated.

2. How do I know if I have endometriosis?

Just look out for the common symptoms of endometriosis such as painful period cramps, cramps one or two weeks before periods, bleeding between periods, abdominal or lower back pain, painful sexual intercourse, bloating, and painful bowel movements.

3. Is endometriosis curable?

Currently there’s no cure for endometriosis, but most people notice significant improvement in their symptoms with surgery. There are also many other treatment options that can help ease the symptoms related to endometriosis.

4. What happens if endometriosis is left untreated?

Endometriosis is a progressive condition, which means its symptoms can worsen over time if left untreated. It can also lead to other conditions such as infertility and ovarian cancer.

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