Endometriosis; Facts to Know.
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.
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Keywords: endometriosis, symptoms of endometriosis, pregnancy