Endometriosis as a condition is an excess of tissue growth (-osis) within the lining of the uterus or womb (endometrium). Endometriosis is when this tissue has grown to encompass surrounding organs or bodily structures, or if the growth of the tissue has progressed outside the womb.
The common locations for this condition to occur are the ovaries, the fallopian tubes within the tissue holding the uterus, or the lining of the pelvic cavity surrounding the uterus. It is possible for the tissue growth to spread into the bowel, bladder, rectum, or cervix and in rare cases endometriosis has been found within the lungs and brain.
There are a number of common symptoms alerting a woman to the potential presence of an endometrial condition. Very painful menstrual cramps that may get progressively worse, chronic lower back or pelvic pain, painful bowel or urinary movements during menstrual periods, constant fatigue, or cases of bleeding/spotting in-between menstrual periods are all potential signs of endometrial growth. The amount of pain felt is not directly related to the amount of growth of the tissue, and it is possible to have the condition and not be in pain.
There are also other health conditions that may be risk factors for this condition. These include health complications such as asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, frequent yeast infections, and certain cancers (ovarian, endocrine, and thyroid among others).
What leads to Endometriosis pain?
The pain felt during endometriosis has to do with the effects caused by the benign (not cancer-producing) endometrial growths within the uterus. The surge of hormones produced within the body during each menstrual cycle also affects these growths, potentially causing them to expand with additional tissue growth. If endometrial growths block a portion of the uterus lining from being discharged during the menstrual cycle, it is possible for this tissue to remain within the body causing inflammation and pain.
In some cases, endometrial growth can encompass the ovaries and block the entrance to the fallopian tubes. When this occurs, it is possible for the blood trapped within the tubes to form cysts leading to bouts of pain.
Any woman who has regular menstrual cycles is at risk for the development of endometriosis; although it occurs most commonly among women in their 30’s or 40’s. Those who have never had a pregnancy, or who have short menstrual cycles (under 27 days), or who have had a family member develop endometrial growths are at risk for this condition.
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