The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 10 percent of women of reproductive age around the world have endometriosis. So, why is this a condition that so many women have never heard of or know much about?
Endometriosis is a chronic disease with many life-impacting symptoms, and there is currently no known cure or treatment for it. Read on to learn more about endometriosis and how you can control and reduce the symptoms if you or someone you love has the condition.
Causes of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a complicated disease that involves a tissue similar to the uterine lining growing outside the uterus. The result is chronic inflammation that can form scar tissue, adhesions, and fibrosis in the pelvis.
It can start as early as a woman’s first period and last until menopause begins. There is no definitive cause known for the disease and no known way to prevent it. Research studies have linked the onset of endometriosis to stem cells, cells changing from one form to another, and menstrual blood with endometrial cells flowing back through the fallopian tubes to the pelvic cavity. Estrogen has been shown to increase the inflammation and pain associated with endometriosis as well.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain in the pelvic area, most common during menstrual periods, during sex, and while urinating or defecating. A person with the disease may also have heavy bleeding during periods, fatigue, bloating, and nausea. Some women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant. The symptoms often get better after menopause, but not always. Also, there are many quality-of-life effects to consider with the disease, such as avoiding intercourse due to painful sex, and depression and anxiety due to recurrent pain and infertility.
Natural Approaches to Endometriosis Treatment
Endometriosis is challenging to diagnose and recognize the symptoms because they are broad and different for every woman. Many women feel that their symptoms are not being taken seriously, and proper diagnoses are delayed or never assessed. An MRI can show adhesions and deep nodular forms that develop from the disease. Research studies are being conducted to test medication options as possible treatments for endometriosis too.
Women suffering from endometriosis have tried many medications to relieve their symptoms, including painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, birth control pills, and fertility medications. In severe cases, laparoscopic surgery may be needed to remove lesions, adhesions, and scar tissues. Meanwhile, some women prefer a more natural approach to symptom management, such as plant-based compounds called isoflavones that block an enzyme that converts one type of hormone to another. Some women have used shark cartilage for their symptoms, while others have tried progesterone cream to block the blood pathway, omega-3 fatty acids to reduce swelling, and chamomile for cramping. Other home remedies to discuss with your doctor include turmeric, green tea, bromelain, acupuncture and massage.
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