Endometriosis has been dubbed the enigmatic disease of the modern age. It is one of the most far-reaching diseases in the world, affecting over 70 million women and girls worldwide. More common than breast cancer or AIDS, this devastating and misunderstood disease is gaining recognition and with the recognition, funding for research into the disease has increased.
Advances In Detection And Diagnoses Have Helped
Methods of detection and diagnosing the disease have improved immensely and consequently the numbers of recorded cases has increased as well. It is a serious disease and people are finally beginning to recognize that fact. With increased public awareness, more women are being encouraged to take control of their health and to follow up on pelvic and menstrual pain. These women are now taking their pain seriously instead of sweeping it under the carpet or accepting it as normal. They are pursuing answers from the medical profession and thankfully, are beginning to get answers.
Endometriosis 101-What It Is And What It Does
Endometriosis is a serious biological malfunction focusing on the reproductive organs of a woman’s body. Something goes awry with the natural bodily processes. The disease is linked to the menstrual cycle and the hormones that generate it. Particles of endometrium, the lining of the uterus, find their way into the pelvic cavity and adhere to other organs and/or to the walls of the pelvis. The endometrium reacts to hormones excreted in the body in preparation for pregnancy and when there is no fertilization of the egg, under normal circumstances the uterus sloughs off the endometrium and the process begins again. When a woman has endometriosis, the endometrium is not expelled properly because it has found its way outside of the uterus.
After months or years, the build-up of tissue is such that severe pain, worsening periods or infertility occurs. During this time the disease will progress and do damage to the organs and pelvic cavity, eventually leading to adhesions, bowel problems and general malaise. Some women do not have serious symptoms in terms of pain, but their ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy is affected. Any of these symptoms may send women in search of answers. In order to diagnose endometriosis, a laparoscopy is necessary.
Even After Surgeries, Endometriosis Can Reappear
Treatments vary from taking a wait-and-see approach, drug therapy, hormone treatments and intrauterine devices to different types of surgical procedures which are aimed at dealing with the adhesions. The most effective treatments seem to be surgical. However, there is no panacea and many women endure many surgeries in order to rid themselves of endometriosis. Still, it often does reappear.
The disease is such that in severe cases of endometriosis, the situation arises again after surgery, particularly if it is inadequately treated at surgery. If the surgeon fails to identify the extent of the disease or if treatment is limited to superficial destruction of lesions with a laser rather than excising both surface and deep endometriosis, it will recur. Women who use hormone replacement therapy during menopause may also see a return of symptoms, since the replacement therapy includes estrogen which stimulates endometrial tissue. The use of drug therapies help to control symptoms but are most effective when the endometriosis is at a mild level.