All you need to know about endometriosis

endometriosis

Tsungai Chekerwa-Machokoto
One of the things I love about modern technology is the medical developments. Ailments that were “strange” have been subjects of research and sophisticated medical technology has pretty much informed the world on these things.

Where witchcraft was the only logical explanation for disease, medicine fixed that too. Endometriosis (jeko) which causes infertility is one of the topics that have been unpacked by doctors and today I’ll shed more light on this topic because it affects a lot of women.

Endometriosis is a problem many women have during their childbearing years. It means that a type of tissue that lines your uterus is also growing outside your uterus. This does not always cause symptoms. And it usually isn’t dangerous. But it can cause pain and other problems. I have personal friends who suffer from it and believe me, the pain is intense.

The clumps of tissue that grow outside your uterus are called implants. They usually grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the outer wall of the uterus, the intestines, or other organs in the belly. In rare cases they spread to areas beyond the belly.

Your uterus is lined with a type of tissue called endometrium. Each month, your body releases hormones that cause the endometrium to thicken and get ready for an egg. If you get pregnant, the fertilised egg attaches to the endometrium and starts to grow. If you do not get pregnant, the endometrium breaks down, and your body sheds it as blood. This is your menstrual period.

When you have endometriosis, the implants of tissue outside your uterus act just like the tissue lining your uterus. During your menstrual cycle, they get thicker, then break down and bleed. But the implants are outside your uterus, so the blood cannot flow out of your body. The implants can get irritated and painful.

Sometimes they form scar tissue or fluid-filled sacs (cysts). Scar tissue may make it hard to get pregnant. Women who suffer from endometriosis should get medical attention immediately.

What causes endometriosis? Experts don’t know what causes endometrial tissue to grow outside your uterus. But they do know that the female hormone estrogen makes the problem worse. Women have high levels of estrogen during their childbearing years. It is during these years — usually from their teens into their 40s — that women have endometriosis. Estrogen levels drop when menstrual periods stop (menopause). Symptoms usually go away then.

The most common symptoms are:

Pain — Where it hurts depends on where the implants are growing. You may have pain in your lower belly, your rectum, vagina, or your lower back. You may have pain only before and during your periods or all the time. Some women have more pain during sex, when they have a bowel movement, or when their ovaries release an egg (ovulation).

Abnormal bleeding — Some women have heavy periods, spotting or bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, or blood in their urine or stool.
Trouble getting pregnant (infertility) — This is the only symptom some women have. Endometriosis varies from woman to woman. Some women don’t know that they have it until they go to see a doctor because they can’t get pregnant or have a procedure for another problem. Some have mild cramping that they think is normal for them. In other women, the pain and bleeding are so bad that they aren’t able to work or go to school. Endometriosis sometimes runs in families.

If it seems like you have endometriosis, your doctor may suggest that you try medicine for a few months. If you get better using medicine, you probably have endometriosis. According to medical research, there is no cure for endometriosis, but there are good treatments. You may need to try several treatments to find what works best for you. With any treatment, there is a chance that your symptoms could come back.

Treatment choices depend on whether you want to control pain or you want to get pregnant. For pain and bleeding, you can try medicines or surgery. If you want to get pregnant, you may need surgery to remove the implants. Treatments for endometriosis include over-the-counter pain medicines. These medicines are called anti-inflammatory drugs. They can reduce bleeding and pain. Birth control pills are often used to treat endometriosis. Most women can use them safely for years. But you cannot use them if you want to get pregnant.

Hormone therapy stops your periods and shrinks implants. But it can cause side effects, and pain may come back after treatment ends. Like birth control pills, hormone therapy will keep you from getting pregnant. Laparoscopy to remove implants and scar tissue is another treatment option. This may reduce pain, and it may also help you get pregnant.

As a last resort for severe pain, some women have their uterus and ovaries removed (hysterectomy and oophorectomy). If you have your ovaries taken out, your estrogen level will drop and your symptoms will probably go away. But you may have symptoms of menopause, and you will not be able to get pregnant. Endometriosis usually stops causing problems when you stop having periods

Endometriosis is a condition that is common among women of child bearing age. The symptoms should never be seen as normal.

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