Endometriosis is a condition in which the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grows outside of it.
Most often this is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes and tissues around the uterus and ovaries; however, in rare cases it may also occur in other parts of the body.
This endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would - it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle.
But as this displaced tissue has no way to exit from the body, it starts accumulating.
When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. In worst conditions, they form abnormal bands of fibrous tissue which make the organs stick to each other.
The root cause of endometriosis is still unknown. But several theories are proposed for this. Heredity is one such reason.
Some endometrial cells may be present from birth. Another theory suggests that menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. These cells are thought to stick to organs and keep growing and bleeding over time.
The primary symptom of endometriosis includes pelvic pain especially during menstruation.
There are a few more symptoms that are listed below which might help in an early diagnosis:
Pain Before Menstruation:
Cramping during menstruation is a very common symptom reported by many women; however, those with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that's far worse than usual. This begins before the period and lasts for a few more days.
Pain During Intercourse:
If the endometriosis growth is behind the vagina and in the lower part of the uterus; it can effect uterine nerves or ligaments causing more pain during intercourse as sexual thrusting pushes and pulls the growths.
Recurring pelvic pain is one of the major symptoms of endometriosis. It can range from mild to severe cramping or stabbing pain that occurs on both sides of the pelvis, in the lower back and rectal area and even down the legs. The pain may be the cause of inflammatory responses triggered by bleeding of endometriosis lesions.
Pain During Bowel Movement:
Studies have reported that endometrial cells that grow outside of the uterus and on the bowel can cause chronic and painful gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome, gas and flatulence.
Pain while urinating is common to those suffering from endometriosis, in the urinary bladder due to the pressure of increased water retention, which causes bladder pain.
Excess Bleeding During Menstruation:
Growth inside the uterus may act as an obstruction to the outflow of blood which can result in clotting. This excess growth of endometriosis cells also bleeds and gets removed out of the body along with normal uterus lining causing a heavy bleeding.
It has been found from research that many women with endometriosis suffer from a chronic back pain. Though the true reason is unknown, it may be because of nerve damage, inflammation, lesions, and/or adhesions that are adjacent to the spinal cord.
Sadly, around 40% of females who suffer from endometriosis also have trouble in conceiving. The risk of infertility grows if endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and attaches itself to the ovaries and fallopian tubes, causing scarring and interfering with the ovulation process.
The good news is endometriosis is curable with hormonal treatment and medications. Women experiencing any such symptoms should immediately be reported to the physician without any delay.