Endometriosis - What is Endometriosis?

29 January 2014

Endometriosis occurs when tissue normally found inside the uterus grows in other parts of the body. It may attach to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the exterior of the uterus, the bowel, or other internal structures. As hormones change during the menstrual cycle, this tissue breaks down and may cause painful adhesions, or scar tissue. More than 5.5 million American women have symptoms of endometriosis.

Endometriosis Symptoms
Pain just before, during, or after menstruation is the most common symptom of endometriosis. For some women, this pain may be disabling and may occur during or after sex, or during bowel movements or urination. It sometimes causes chronic pain in the pelvis and lower back. However, many women with endometriosis have mild or no symptoms. The symptoms may be related to the location of the growths.

Endometriosis and Infertility
Sometimes the first -- or only -- sign of endometriosis is trouble getting pregnant. Infertility affects about a third of women with the condition, for reasons that are not yet well understood. Scarring may be to blame. The good news is that medical treatments are effective to overcome infertility -- and pregnancy itself can relieve some symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis or Fibroids?
Endometriosis is one cause of severe menstrual pain. But the pain can be caused by another condition, such as fibroids, which are noncancerous growths of the muscle tissue of the uterus. Fibroids can cause severe cramps and heavier bleeding during your period. The pain of endometriosis or fibroids can also occur at other times of the month.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Doctors don't know why endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, but there are several theories. Heredity plays a role, and some endometrial cells may be present from birth. The cells also might migrate to the pelvic area during menstruation, through the bloodstream, or during surgery such as caesarian delivery. A faulty immune system may fail to eliminate the misplaced cells.

Endometriosis: Who Is at Risk?

Endometriosis is more common in women who:

1 Are in their 30s and 40s
2 Have not had children
3 Have periods longer than 7 days
4 Have cycles shorter than 28 days
5 Started their period before age 12
6 Have a mother or sister who had endometriosis

Getting Pregnant With Endometriosis
Many women with endometriosis don't have trouble getting pregnant. But laparoscopic surgery can significantly improve the pregnancy rate of women who have moderate to severe endometriosis. In vitro fertilization is an option if infertility persists. The sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory and the resulting embryo is implanted into the uterus.

Coping With Endometriosis
Although there is no way to prevent endometriosis, you can make lifestyle choices that will help you feel better. Regular exercise may help reduce pain by improving your blood flow and producing endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers. Acupuncture, yoga, massage, and meditation also may be helpful in easing symptoms.

An End to Endometriosis?
For most women, endometriosis recedes with menopause. Some women find relief from endometriosis during pregnancy. In some cases, endometriosis symptoms may simply go away. About one-third of women with mild endometriosis will find that their symptoms resolve on their own.

Source: WEBMD - http://women.webmd.com/endometriosis/ss/slideshow-endometriosis-overview?ecd=wnl_wmh_121313&ctr=wnl-wmh-121313_ld-stry&mb=e7roGLcM5sKXTwiOf8ZKUeHnVev1imbCNzeTLmgyHqo%3d