What is Endometriosis?

By Navita Modi, M.D., Obstetrician/Gynecologist

What is  EndometriosisThe tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus is called the endometrium. In some women the endometrium grows outside of the uterus. When this happens a woman has a condition called endometriosis. The most common areas for this abnormal growth of endometrium are the reproductive organs (the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus). Endometrium may also grow on the intestines, bladder, rectum, and the lining of the pelvic area and abdomen.

This misplaced tissue responds to the hormones of the menstrual cycle and bleeds each month in the same way the lining of the uterus responds to hormones. However, if the tissue is not in the uterus, the blood shed from the tissue has no way to leave the body. When the tissue bleeds, cysts, adhesions, and scar tissue form and the area around the endometriosis thickens. Very rarely, endometriosis becomes cancerous.

How does it occur?
Why some women develop endometriosis is not known. There are many theories, but none of them explains all cases. Some of the theories are:

• In some women during menstruation, some of the menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen, where it attaches and grows.

• Endometriosis may be a genetic process or some families may have predisposing factors to endometriosis.

• Endometrial cells spread to other parts of the body through the lymph system or blood vessels.

• There is some endometrial tissue in the uterus that backs up in all women. The immune system may then destroy the misplaced tissue. Women who develop endometriosis, however, may have an immune system that is not able to destroy the misplaced tissue.

What are the symptoms?
Endometriosis affects each woman differently. During your menses, the misplaced tissue swells and bleeds just like the lining of the uterus. The following symptoms may begin suddenly or develop over many years:
• increased pelvic, back, or flank pain before or during the menstrual period

• pain during sex

• premenstrual spotting

• blood in the urine, painful urination, or feeling the need to urinate often during or after you menstrual flow

• abnormal or heavy menstrual flow

• painful bowel movements, diarrhea, constipation, or other intestinal problems during menstrual periods

• trouble becoming pregnant

How is it treated?
Endometriosis is a disease that can get more severe as you grow older. However, there are many ways to lessen the symptoms and problems it causes. The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, the location and degree of endometriosis, your age, and your plans for childbearing. Medications, hormones, surgery

How long will the effects last?
No treatment has been found that is 100% effective. All current therapy offers some relief from the symptoms but not a cure. Endometriosis may come back or get worse after hormone therapy or surgery. Other conditions that are typically seen with persons that have endometriosis are Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Interstitial Cystitis (painful bladder syndrome). Having some additional testing to evaluate for these conditions may help alleviate your symptoms and increase the duration of relief.

How can I take care of myself?
Keep a careful record of your symptoms. The easiest way to do this is to assign a number to each of the symptoms you have and record them by number on your calendar for 3 months. Record all symptoms, including any time lost from work, school, or leisure activities. Report the symptoms to your health care provider. Take your calendar with you to your appointment. If you have not yet been diagnosed with endometriosis, your provider may not suspect endometriosis without this information.

What can be done to help prevent endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that cannot be prevented or cured. However, treatment can help control the symptoms.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office today.

To help ease your pain:
. Take warm baths
. Rest
. Wear loose clothing
. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad on your abdomen
. Avoid constipation by increasing the fiber in your diet
. Do relaxation exercises
. Take pain medicine as recommended by your provider

What can be done to help prevent endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that cannot be prevented or cured. However, treatment can help control the symptoms.

Women’s Care Group
King’s Daughters Medical Center
Medical Plaza B
613 23rd St. Suite 130, Ashland, KY 41101
(606) 326-9833 | (606) 324-6634 (Modi)

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