Whereas endometriosis is a typical situation, affecting as many as one in each 10 American girls, it’s complicated and infrequently misunderstood. Endometriosis happens when tissue very like 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 situations, infertility.
One research exhibits it will possibly take as much as seven years for a girl to get a prognosis of endometriosis as a result of signs might mimic different frequent situations, equivalent to irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions in regards to the illness, together with the 5 myths under, might preserve some girls from searching for assist. Discuss to your well being care group should you’re involved about painful intervals or different doable symptoms of endometriosis, equivalent to long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.
5 myths — and the information — about endometriosis
Fable 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Girls with endometriosis typically assume that their signs are a traditional a part of menstruation, and after they do search assist they’re typically dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However actually, one thing far more severe is happening than interval cramps. One principle is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is outdoors the uterus, it continues to answer hormonal alerts and produce chemical substances 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 way of the vagina every month, blood from displaced tissue has nowhere to go. As an alternative, 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 type an internet, fusing organs collectively. This may occasionally result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.
Fable 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The most typical places for endometriosis growths to happen are throughout 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. Not often, 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 girl 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 US. Having the situation additionally will increase the chance of miscarriage and different issues in being pregnant. Nonetheless, the excellent news is that the overwhelming majority of girls with endometriosis are in the end in a position to have a baby.
Fable 4: Endometriosis might be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there isn’t any recognized solution to forestall it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can cut back your danger, in keeping with the US Workplace of Girls’s Well being. Estrogen can gasoline the expansion of endometriosis and amplify signs. You’ll be able to cut back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception methodology, shedding pounds if you’re obese, 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 way of menopause, the ovaries proceed to supply small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths might proceed to answer the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t carry aid to all. Some girls who’ve gone by way of menopause might go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nonetheless, these procedures are usually not at all times profitable in controlling ache. Hormonal therapies, too, look like much less efficient in girls after menopause.
For details about treating endometriosis ache, see this post from the Harvard Well being Weblog.