By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 22 December 2022 & Updated on - 28 December 2022
Endometriosis is a gynaecological disorder that causes the uterus's normal lining to grow abnormally. The painful chronic disease is common and occurs in 1/10th of the global female population. The disorder does not go away without treatment and can cause excruciating pelvic pain and infertility in women.
Women become susceptible to developing endometriosis after they reach reproductive age. It can even occur in women not having children or those having menopause at a later age. Shorter menstrual cycles (less than 27 days) can also be associated with the development of the disorder.
The disorder can remain undetected for years since it is often mistaken for menstrual pain. Other times, patients may suffer no visible symptoms. As the displaced uterine lining or endometrium attaches to other organs and grows, it can cause discomfort leading to severe pain. The condition usually involves the fallopian tubes, pelvic tissue linings, and ovaries. Eventually, it can affect the bladder and bowel, causing painful sensations during urination and defecation.
Endometriosis is most likely caused by retrograde menstrual flow when the blood flows backwards instead of going out of the vagina. The blood moves through the fallopian tubes into the peritoneum in such cases. As the menstrual flow enters the pelvis, it deposits the endometrial cells outside the uterus. These cells can then grow in unusual locations and cause problems.
It is recommended to consult a gynaecologist under the following conditions:
On Symptoms: If patients are experiencing severe pelvic pain, consistent dull period pain, nausea, or excessive menstrual bleeding, they must consult a gynaecologist. These could be signs of endometriosis. Since the condition is complex and challenging, having an early diagnosis can help provide the necessary medical assistance required for the treatment.
Difficulties Regarding Pregnancy: Failing to conceive after several attempts can indicate endometriosis. Although it is not the only cause of infertility, a professional gynaecologist can find the root cause. Since endometriosis blocks the fallopian tubes, the eggs cannot reach the uterus. Also, scar tissues can form due to abnormal growth, making it more difficult to achieve pregnancy.
Delayed Periods: Although a delayed period is not a clear sign of endometriosis, it can help in early diagnosis. Usually, women experiencing endometriosis suffer from painful sensations similar to menstrual cramps. The pain due to endometriosis also increases with time.
Regular Pelvic Exams: Women reaching puberty should consult their gynaecologist at least once a year. Regular health check-ups like a pelvic examination can curb the chances of forming endometriosis. This early diagnosis also helps the doctor inspect the vulva, vagina, cervix, and other areas for lumps.
Physical Examination: A gynaecologist may perform a pelvic and rectal inspection of the areas for checking any unusual growth. Although the chances of detecting endometriosis through a physical examination are low, it can help in preliminary diagnosis. Reduced uterine mobility, tender uterosacral nodularity, cervical motion tenderness, or a retroverted uterus can all be signs of the disease.
Imaging Tests: Imaging tests are crucial for detecting endometriosis. These can confirm various information regarding the growth, such as the size, shape, location, etc. There are a few ways the imaging tests can be done.
Blood Tests: A CA125 test is a type of blood test that allows checking the levels of CA125 protein in the blood. This is a tumour marker for various gynaecological examinations as the protein level is high in endometriosis patients. The only drawback of this method is that the CA125 level is also high in pregnant women.
Home Care: If the pain due to endometriosis becomes too unbearable, few home remedies can help. Applying heat to the pelvic muscles is an excellent remedy, as it allows the muscles to relax. This can ease up the pain and cramping. Taking over-the-counter inflammatory medication like ibuprofen can also provide quick relief from the painful sensations. However, it is recommended not to use them for more than a week. Consuming turmeric capsules or turmeric tea with ginger powder and honey thrice a day may also provide relief.
Medication: Besides over-the-counter pain-relieving drugs, doctors may prescribe other medicines like hormone therapy. These medications are recommended only if the patient is not trying to conceive.
a. Stage I: Minimal disease with some superficial endometrial implants
b. Stage II: Milder version of the disease with deeper implants noticeable
c. Stage III: Moderate disorder with deep endometrial implants and development of ovarian cysts
d. Stage IV: Severe endometriosis with numerous deep implants, large cysts, and dense adhesions
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Is it possible to develop endometriosis after menopause?
After puberty, menopause is another stage when the female body undergoes rapid change. This transition can alter the hormone levels, causing a decrease in the oestrogen level. This can cause the endometrial lesions to reduce in size. However, those undergoing any hormone treatment during menopause may notice the symptoms of endometriosis.
Which endometriosis is the most severe?
Deep infiltrating endometriosis 2 or DIE II is the most severe type of endometriosis. It occurs in various places of the body like appendix, pelvic cavity, diaphragm, and bowels.
Is endometriosis curable?
Currently, there is no permanent cure for endometriosis other than surgical removal of the lesions. However, the disorder is preventable by reducing the risk factors. It is also recommended to consult a doctor early on if there is a history of endometriosis in the family.