Endometriosis occurs when bits of the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, escape the uterus and are found on other pelvic organs. It’s believed that this happens during menstruation when the tissue is being shed during the normal menstrual flow. Most often the tissue deposits on the outside of the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the uterus or its supporting ligaments. It then imitates the menstrual cycle. It thickens until after ovulation, then breaks apart and bleeds. Because there is nowhere for the blood to go, blood blisters are formed. These blisters irritate the surrounding tissue. Cysts may form to surround the blisters. The cysts can become scars or adhesions that can prevent pregnancy. The cause of endometriosis is not known. It does seem to run in families and is most likely to occur in women between the ages of 25 and 40.
SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
- painful menstruation
- occasional heavy periods
- sharp pain deep in the pelvis during intercourse
- pain when defecating
HOW ENDOMETRIOSIS IS TREATED
Pregnancy will often cause mild endometriosis to shrink and the symptoms to disappear. Birth control pills may relieve symptoms in some women. Other hormone treatments can be used to shrink the tissue by stopping ovulation and menstruation.
Surgery can remove the endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. Even with surgery, endometriosis can still come back. Endometriosis becomes inactive during menopause. However, taking replacement hormones as a treatment for menopause may cause it to return.