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Endometriosis: Explanations and understanding

Hormone replacement, Women's Health | October 13, 2014 | Author: The Super Pharmacist

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Endometriosis: Explanations and understanding

Unfortunately, many women in Australia suffer from endometriosis. Under normal hormonal conditions, the lining of the uterus, which is known as the endometrium, thickens and sheds each month during the menstrual cycle. However, for those suffering from endometriosis, the endometrial tissue for some reason grows on the outside of the uterus. This growth typically occurs on the fallopian tubes, the ovaries and inside the pelvis between the rectum and the uterus. The abnormal tissue growth may also occur on the bladder, bowel or elsewhere in the body. While the exact cause of this condition is not yet known, current theories suggest links to:

  • Genetics
  • Dysfunctional immune system
  • An excess of menstrual blood flowing through the fallopian tubes as opposed to through the vagina

The normal hormonal cycle is followed with endometriosis, which means that the tissue continues to grow each month as it would inside the uterus, yet there is nowhere for it to go.

As a result, collections of blood accumulate within the pelvis and elsewhere is the body, which can lead to irritation.

This irritation causes inflammation, causing tight bands of scarring or adhesions to form.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

The pain from endometriosis can be so severe at times that is interrupts daily life. Typically, the pain will occur around the same time as menstruation. However, for some the pain persists continuously. The symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Bowel symptoms, such as pain or bleeding with bowel movements, diarrhoea and constipation
  • Bladder symptoms, such as pain or passing blood with urination
  • Bloating
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy, prolonged periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful menstruation cycles, especially lower abdominal pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful ovulation
  • Lethargy
  • Lower back pain
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Pelvic pain
  • Premenstrual spotting
  • Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS
  • Reduced fertility and difficulty conceiving
  • Upper thigh pain

EndometriosisEven though an estimation of one in eight women suffer from endometriosis, many do not know anything about the condition and believe their symptoms are normal. Therefore, it can take as long as eight years for a diagnosis to occur.

Many women endure the pain alone without the support of family members or health professional because they do not recognise their discomfort as symptoms.

Treating Endometriosis

Of course, there is not a magical cure for endometriosis. Every treatment does not work for every woman and there is no way to know which will work for you. The most common treatments for endometriosis include:

  • Pain relief and observation – For mild cases, anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and other mild analgesics are taken with ongoing monitoring.
     
  • Hormonal medicines – Because the condition may be attributed directly to hormones, particularly progesterone and oestrogen, hormone replacement therapy is often prescribed to manage symptoms. Several types of hormone therapies are available with various benefits and side effect profiles. Most medications when taken as prescribed cause monthly periods to stop.
     
  • Surgery – The most effective cure for endometriosis is surgery, with over 80% of women experiencing relief and a low rate of returning symptoms. In most cases, the surgery is done laproscopically under general anaesthesia.

In addition to medical solutions, many women also find relief from complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and dietary changes.

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References

Endometriosis Australia, Endometriosis Facts

Endometriosis Care Centre of Australia, About Endometriosis

Quendo Endometriosis Association (QLD) Inc

Bupa, Health and wellness, health information, A-Z health information, Endometriosis

Better Health Channel, Conditions & Treatments, Female reproductive system – Uterus, Endometriosis

Black K, Fraser I; Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology, University of Sydney; Division of Women’s and Children’s Health, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney; Australian Prescriber Medical Management of Endometriosis; 2012

Women’s Health Queensland Wide Inc., Conditions & Treatment, Endometriosis Fact Sheet

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