Endometriosis: The Basicsby Jennifer Mitchell Wilson B.S. Dietetics, Dietitian, Health Professional
I have endometriosis. Recently the pain has become so severe that I have scheduled a hysterectomy. Due to the aggressive nature of my endometriosis they will have to remove my ovaries as well. This blog is my outlet to tell my own story and hopefully to help some of you going through this horrible condition as well but first: the basics
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of the uterus called the endometrium migrates and grows in other areas of the body. The tissue responds to hormones in the same way as it would in the uterus and can bleed each month. This can cause a severe amount of pain or other issues, like infertility, depending on where the misplaced tissue is located. The places that most frequently develop these implants are the pelvic area, outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, bowel, rectum, bladder, and on the lining of the pelvis. Though not as common, endometriosis implants can be found in other places as well.
If your doctor suspects you have endometriosis they may do pelvic exam, pelvic ultrasounds or a laparoscopy. The laparoscopy with biopsy is the only was to definitively diagnose endometriosis. If you have a "clean" ultrasound it does not rule out endometriosis. If you continue to have pain that does not respond to treatment you may wish to discuss whether a laparoscopy would be useful.
There are several ways to "treat" endometriosis. If symptoms are mild you may choose to wait and see how it progressive. More severe symptoms may require hormones to help limit the symptoms. Some of the hormonal treatments include continuous birth control pills, progesterone tablets or injections, or medications that prevent the ovaries from producing estrogen. All of these treatments have varying degrees of side effects from feeling pregnant to feeling as if you are going through menopause!
Theories exist as to the exact cause of endometriosis but there are none that have been proved. Some feel as if there is some problem with the immune system that allows the tissue to grow in placed where it should not be found or that it could be caused by "retrograde menstruation" In any case it can cause severe pain for people who suffer from it.
In future blogs I will discuss my own struggles and treatment choices. I welcome you input and comments. Feel free to share your own stories on our site by creating your own SharePost. The support that can be found through other women dealing with the same issue is priceless.