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Endometriosis; Facts to Know.

Endometriosis is a noncancerous condition that affects 10 to 15 percent of reproductive-age women who menstruate.

About 5.5 million women in the U.S. and Canada have been diagnosed with endometriosis.

Endometriosis develops when cells from the endometrium--or uterine lining--grow outside the uterus and stick to other structures, most commonly the ovaries, bowel, fallopian tubes or bladder. Endometrial tissue may also migrate outside of the pelvic cavity to distant parts of the body. Researchers aren't sure what causes this condition.

Symptoms of endometriosis can range from mild pain to pain severe enough to interfere with a woman's ability to lead a normal life. Other symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, diarrhea and painful bowel movements during menstruation, and painful intercourse. However, you may have the disease and experience none of these symptoms.

A laparoscope is commonly used to diagnose and treat endometriosis. Laparoscopy allows a surgeon to view abnormalities in the pelvic region via a miniature telescope inserted through the abdominal wall, usually through the navel. While this is the best method of definitive diagnosis available, just because the doctor doesn't see any endometrial tissue doesn't rule out endometriosis.

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can temporarily halt the painful symptoms of endometriosis since menstruation stops and estrogen levels drop.

There is no cure for endometriosis. Treatment options include minor and major surgery and medical therapies, including hormonal contraceptives and other hormonal drugs, such as GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) agonists, that limit the estrogen release that stimulates endometrial tissue growth.

There is some evidence that a family history of endometriosis may contribute to your likelihood of developing this disease. If you have a mother or sister who is battling endometriosis or been diagnosed with it, your risk of developing the disease is seven times higher than someone with no family history.

Medical research indicates that daughters of women who took the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) anytime from 1938 to 1971 to prevent miscarriage have an increased risk of developing this disease.

References

Ryan, Kenneth, Ross Berkowitz, et al., eds. Kistner's Gynecology and Women's Health. 7th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1999. pp. 501-502.

"FDA Approves New Labels for Estrogen and Estrogen with Progestin Therapies for Postmenopausal Women Following Review of Women's Health Initiative Data." FDA News/Press Release. January 8, 2003. http://www.fda.gov. Accessed March 2003.

Grady D, Herrington D, Bittner V, et al, for the HERS Research Group. Heart and estrogen/progestin replacement study follow-up (HERS II): Part 1. Cardiovascular outcomes during 6.8 years of hormone therapy. JAMA 2002;288:49-57.

Hulley S, Furberg C, Barrett-Connor E, et al, for the HERS Research Group. Heart and estrogen/progestin replacement study follow-up (HERS II): Part 2. Non-cardiovascular outcomes during 6.8 years of hormone therapy. JAMA 2002;288:58-66.

Writing Group for the Women's Health Initiative Investigators. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women's Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2002; 288:321-333.

"Estrogen Plus Progestin Study Stopped Due to Increased Breast Cancer Risk, Lack of Overall Benefit." National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Updated July 9, 2002; accessed July 9, 2002.

"Women's Health Initiative," National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Updated July 9, 2002; accessed July 9, 2002.

"The Women's Health Initiative New Facts About: Estrogen/Progestin Therapy." National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Updated July 9, 2002; accessed July 9, 2002.

"Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy Questioned For Some Women: A Preliminary Response from The North American Menopause Society." http://www.nams.org. Updated July 9, 2002; accessed July 9, 2002.

Lacey, James V., et al. "Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy and Risk of Ovarian Cancer." JAMA 2002. Vol. 288:334-341.368-369.

Droegemuller, William. "Endometriosis and Adenomyosis: Etiology, Pathology, Diagnosis and Management," in Comprehensive Gynecology, 4th Ed., Stenchever, Droegemuller, Herbst, Michell (2001), p. 531-564.

"About DES (diethylstilboestrol)" Endometriosis.org. http://www.endometriosis.org. Dated 1999. Accessed August 2001.

"Endometriosis Family Study Identifies High Risk of Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases." Endometriosis Association. http://www.endometriosis.org. Dated 1999. Accessed August 2001.

Guidelines on the Treatment of Endometriosis: Update. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Practice Bulletin no. 11, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dec. 1999.

Reproductive Conditions-Endometriosis. Veritas Medicine. http://www.veritasmedicine.com. Dated 2001. Accessed August 2001.

The Endometriosis Association. http://www.endometriosisassn.org. July 2005.

Endometriosis.org http://www.endometriosis.org. July 2005.

Endometriosis. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed October 2005.

Berkley KJ, Rapkin AJ, Papka RE. The pains of endometriosis. Science. 2005 Jun 10;308(5728):1587-9.

Keywords: endometriosis, symptoms of endometriosis, pregnancy
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Endometriosis
Article Type:Disease/Disorder overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 5, 2007
Words:775
Previous Article:Endometriosis; Prevention.
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