A painful disorder, endometriosis occurs when the tissues that line the inside of the uterus grow outside the uterus. It affects the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and tissues lining the pelvis. However, the disorder does not spread beyond the pelvic organs. When endometriosis affects an individual, the displaced endometrial tissue will continue to grow as it normally does. It will become thick, break down, and bleed during every menstrual cycle. However, the displaced tissue is trapped since it has no way to leave the body. This can cause mild to severe pain during menstruation.
In the cases when the ovaries are involved, endometriomas may develop. These are cysts that form on the ovaries and irritate the surrounding tissue, which may later develop adhesions and scar tissues. Adhesions are abnormal bands of fibrous tissues that cause the organs and tissues in the pelvis to stick to each other. Endometriosis can lead to fertility problems as well. However, there are treatments to manage this disorder.
Read on to know more about endometriosis.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known. Here are some of the possible causes of the disorder.
- Transformation of peritoneal cells: Peritoneal cells form the inner lining of the abdomen. According to experts, certain hormones or immune factors may lead to the transformation of peritoneal cells into endometrial cells.
- Retrograde menstruation: In this condition, menstrual blood that has endometrial cells flows back into the fallopian tubes. Through these tubes, the blood goes into the pelvic cavity instead of flowing out from the body. The displaced endometrial cells then stick to the pelvic organs and the pelvic cavity. Here, they grow, thicken, and bleed during each menstrual cycle.
- Surgical scar implantation: Endometrial cells may get attached to a surgical incision after surgeries such as C-section, hysterectomy, and so on.
- Immune system disorder: In some cases, autoimmune disorders may impair the immune system. The system will not be able to recognize the endometrial tissues growing outside the uterus and destroy them.
- Embryonic cell transformation: The cells that are in the earliest stages of development are called embryonic cells. During puberty, hormones such as estrogen may cause the transformation of these cells into endometrial cells.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain that is often associated with periods. Experiencing cramps is quite normal during the menstrual period. However, women who have endometriosis experience pain of a far higher degree. The pain may aggravate over time. Some other common symptoms and signs of endometriosis are as mentioned:
- Dysmenorrhea: There might be abdominal pain and lower back pain accompanied by pelvic pain and cramping, which may start before the menstrual period begins. The pain may go on for several days during the period.
- Pain with urination or bowel movement: This pain is generally experienced during the menstrual period.
- Pain with intercourse: In the case of endometriosis, experiencing pain during or after sexual intercourse is quite common.
- Excessive bleeding: Endometriosis may cause menorrhagia or heavy periods. In some cases, women also experience menometrorrhagia or bleeding between two consecutive menstrual periods.
Other symptoms include nausea, bloating, constipation, fatigue, and diarrhea. These are mostly experienced during menstrual periods.