Endometriosis: What is it?

By on Feb 18, 2016

Sometimes pain during your menstrual cycle is more than the average discomfort. Sometimes it is indicative of a more serious condition such as Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where uterine lining cells, the endometrium, develop outside of the uterus. This becomes a problem when the endometrium continues to act like uterine cells during menstruation. This causes these cells to thicken, build up, and break down, causing blood to collect inside the body with no method of leaving the body.

Endometriosis can be extremely painful and even cause fertility issues. The tissue most often builds around the pelvis and the ovaries, but can also bind to other organs and even lead to scar tissue.

Primary symptoms include pelvic pain during the menstrual cycle that tends to increase as you get older and is worse than the average menstrual pain. Symptoms tend to appear several years after the onset of menstruation. However, severity of the pain is not indicative with the progress of the condition. If you have a severe case of endometriosis, you may not even experience pain!

The exact cause of endometriosis has yet to be determined but there are several risk factors that seem to increase the risk of endometriosis:

  • Never given birth
  • Immediate family members with endometriosis
  • Any medical condition that prevents normal blood flow during menstrual cycle
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • History of pelvic infection

Testing for endometriosis involves a few different methods including a pelvic exam (your doctor will feel for the build up of excess tissue in the abdomen), an ultrasound, or laparoscopy. Treatment is also varied, ranging from the minimal (pain medication, hormone therapy through contraceptive methods) to the more intense (conservative surgery or even a hysterectomy). Warms baths, heating pads, anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen, and a regular exercise routine can all minimize the symptoms of endometriosis.

www.mayoclinic.org   |    Endometriosis