Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Panaimaram

Endometriosis is a painful gynaecological disorder which affects between 6 and 10 per cent of women of reproductive age globally . Around 25 to 30% of infertile women have endometriosis and around 30 to 50% of women with endometriosis are infertile .

The endometrial tissues are situated in the inside linings of the uterus. These tissues are made up of glands, blood cells, and connective tissues. Normally, the endometrial tissues grow in the uterus to prepare the lining of the womb for ovulation.

Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial tissues grow outside the uterus. This affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the lymph nodes, and the peritoneum. The displaced endometrial tissues thicken, breaks down and bleeds during menstruation, which causes pain.

When the lesions grow larger, it affects other bodily functions.

The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, however, the possible causes include the following.

1. Retrograde menstruation - The menstrual blood containing endometrial tissues flows back into the fallopian tubes and the pelvis instead of exiting the body.

2. Embryonic cell growth - Embryonic cells lining the pelvis and abdomen develop into endometrial tissue during puberty.

3. Transformation of peritoneal cells - Peritoneal cells are cells that line the inner side of the abdomen which transforms into endometrial tissues.

4. Endometrial cell transport - The lymphatic system transports endometrial cells to other parts of the body.

5. Immune system disorder - Problems with the immune system can make it difficult for the body to detect and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus.

6. Hormones - Endometriosis is triggered by the oestrogen hormone.

7. Surgery - After surgeries such as C-section and hysterectomy, endometrial tissues can attach to a surgical incision.

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, which is mostly caused during menstruation. Other symptoms are as follows:

The symptoms of endometriosis are similar to other medical conditions such as ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Other health conditions like allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, ovarian cancer and breast cancer have been linked to endometriosis.

Also, a research study has linked endometriosis to certain chemicals .

The doctor will first ask about your symptoms followed by tests like pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, and surgical laparoscopy. The diagnosis of endometriosis is categorized as follows:

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