Endometriosis Awareness

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the endometrium (lining inside the uterus) is found outside the uterus on other parts of the body, most commonly in the pelvic cavity. It affects 176 million women worldwide, usually during reproductive years. Currently, there is no cure for Endometriosis.


“What is Endometriosis” by Endometriosis Foundation of America (www.endofound.org)

Although it affects 1 in 10 women worldwide, there is still a lack of Endometriosis awareness around the world.

“One of the most critical challenges facing the endometriosis community is a lack of factual awareness; a challenge which keeps us largely mired in myths, misinformation, lengthy delays in diagnosis, poor treatments and an incredible lack of support.”(centerforendometriosiscare.com)

March_Endometriosis_AwarenessMarch is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to debunk some myths and offer correct facts and general information concerning this incurable condition.

Cause and Diagnosis

  • Currently, no one specific cause has been identified. Multiple theories exist, including the high likelihood that certain genes predispose women to develop the condition; however, further research is necessary to fully understand the genetic characteristics of endometriosis.
  • Endometriosis is not contagious. It cannot be passed from person to person through contact.
  • Research shows endometriosis can be present during fetal development. Autopsies have been performed on infants and have shown evidence of endometriosis. The condition can be easily activated at puberty when estrogen levels increase in the body.
  • Endometriosis is hard to diagnose. On average, it takes around 10 years from the onset of symptoms to be accurately diagnosed.
  • Many endometriosis patients are misdiagnosed, often multiple times, leading to treatment that is unnecessary and inappropriate.
  • Evidence is not visible on CTs, MRIs, or ultrasounds. Pelvic exams can only indicate a high suspicion of endometriosis, not confirm it.
  • The only definitive way to know is via laparoscopy. There is no simple test using blood or urine that can confirm it.

Symptoms

  • Endometriosis affects every woman differently. There’s no one treatment that will work for everyone. Discuss your specific symptoms and treatment options with your doctor.
  • Endometriosis is not just about painful periods and infertility. Symptoms vary depending on where lesions are growing. There are many other symptoms, including: chronic pelvic pain, severe cramping, abnormal bleeding or periods lasting longer than 7 days, heavy menstrual flow, painful ovulation, pain during/after sex, bowel or urinary disorders, nausea or vomiting, and fatigue.
  • Pelvic pain is the most common pain. Although it typically coincides with menstruation, some women may have symptoms throughout their entire cycle.

Curability + Treatment

  • There is no cure for endometriosis. It’s not a rare condition, as it affects 10% of reproductive-aged women.
  • Having a Hysterectomy is not a definitive cure for endometriosis. In fact, most women who undergo a hysterectomy will still experience pain.
  • There are three main treatments for endometriosis: surgery, hormones and pain management.
  • Not all endometriosis surgery is created equal. Laparoscopic excision is the best surgery to have. Ablation and Cauterization only remove tissue on the surface, but neglect tissue growing beneath; therefore, neither are effective long-term.
  • Endometriosis needs oestrogen to grow. Hormonal treatments that slow down or stop the production of oestrogen are therefore commonly used to treat it. These include low-dose oral contraceptive pill, progestins, pain killers (NSAIDs)GnRH-therapy such as Lupron, and the Mirena IUD (hormonal, not copper).
  • Pregnancy is not a cure for endometriosis. Much like hormonal drug treatments, pregnancy will supress the symptoms, but does not cure the condition itself.

Pregnancy

  • Pregnancy is not a cure for endometriosis. People usually experience a reduction of symptoms during pregnancy because of the hormone increase (specifically progesterone) in the body, but it does not cure the condition.
  • Getting pregnant and/or having a kid(s) in your early 20’s does not cause endometriosis. Delaying pregnancy is not a cause of endometriosis, either. For a full review on what can cause the condition, please revisit the Cause & Diagnosis facts above.
  • Having endometriosis does not equal infertility. Between 30% and 40% of women with endometriosis may not be able to have children; however, many women have become pregnant naturally or with reproductive assistance.
  • If you want to have children in the future, discuss fertility with your doctor before surgery. In some cases, surgery can help women become pregnant naturally, even if they do suffer from endometriosis. However, surgery on your ovaries can also impair their function, making it harder to get pregnant.

If you have symptoms of Endometriosis and want to get a better opinion, please do not hesitate to contact one of our offices today and schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Gynecologists.

Resources:
http://endometriosis.org/resources/articles/facts-about-endometriosis/
http://endometriosis.org/resources/articles/myths/
http://www.endofound.org/endometriosis
http://www.centerforendometriosiscare.com/endometriosis-awareness-why-it-matters/

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