Most people have never heard of endometriosis and even those that have know little about this medical condition. But like many medical conditions that can seriously affect one’sone’s life, endometriosis can be managed and the risks minimized if a person takes the time to do their homework. Here are some facts and background about endometriosis that should help anyone get a better grasp of the condition and how it may affect their lives.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, endometriosis is a non-cancerous condition that affects anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of all women of reproductive age. Endometriosis occurs when cells from the uterine lining, or endometrium, begin growing outside of the uterus. These cells may grow and develop in places like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, or even bladder. It has been observed where cells even work their way outside of the pelvic cavity and begin growing in more distant areas of the body.
Certain populations of women are thought to be at increased risk for developing endometriosis. In the past, women were worried about miscarriages and were prescribed a drug called diethylstilbestrol from the late 30s up until the early 1970s. The daughters of the women who took this drug to prevent miscarriage now have a greater chance of developing endometriosis than average women in the population who did not have mothers taking diethylstilbestrol.
Still, no one knows what causes endometriosis. Some women with the condition experience no visible symptoms at all. Others, however, generally experience pelvic pain that feels similar to the pain felt during the menstrual cycle. The pelvic pain experienced because of endometriosis generally coincides with a woman’s period, but it can be constant for some with the condition. If endometriosis has spread to the bladder or bowel, a woman may experience pain or discomfort when urinating or having a bowel movement.
Unfortunately, there is no actual cure for endometriosis. At best, doctors can manage the symptoms but the condition never actually goes away. Pain medications such as codeine and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen are the best options for managing the pain.
Endometriosis does not have to be a devastating condition that permanently hampers a woman’s lifestyle. Its symptoms can be managed and the pain made bearable with the right medications. If you have noticed irregularities with your menstrual cycle such as increased pain that may extend beyond your period or unusual spotting, consult with your gynecologist immediately.