What is endometriosis, what are the symptoms and can it be treated?
ABOUT two million women in the UK are affected by endometriosis where tissue from the lining of the womb is found outside the uterus, attached to organs such as the ovaries and the Fallopian tubes.
But what are the symptoms and how can it be treated? Here's everything you need to know.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic condition which occurs when tissue from the lining of the womb is found outside of the womb – in areas of the body including the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the abdomen and the bladder.
So what causes the condition that so many women suffers from?
The exact cause of the condition isn't known, but it's thought it could be hereditary or due to environmental factors – namely the presence of dioxins in the environment.
Meanwhile, other experts believe it could be caused by a process called retrograde menstruation, which is when the womb lining flows backwards through the Fallopian tubes into the abdomen, instead of leaving the body as a period.
Endometriosis can sometimes cause damage to the Fallopian tubes or ovaries, leading to fertility problems.
Other complications can include painful ovarian cysts and adhesions – areas of tissue which can fuse organs together.
In 2017, scientists discovered cancer-causing gene mutations in some patients diagnosed with the agonising womb condition.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, saw researchers analyse tissue from the lining of the womb of 27 women and found most had one or multiple genetic mutations.
Twenty-four were found to have genetic mutations that could increase the risk of cancer.
These mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except sperm and egg cells and can, but do not always, trigger the disease.
Study co-author, Michael Anglesio, told The Vancouver Sun: “Finding these mutations in non-cancer conditions is largely uncharted territory.
“It’s not just inflammation around endometrial tissue in the wrong place, it’s that there are genetic changes hardwired into the biology of the disorder.”
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Symptoms of endometriosis can vary, but the most common include painful or heavy periods, pain during and following sex, bleeding between periods, pain in the lower abdomen and difficulty conceiving.
Endometriosis can also cause sufferers to be constantly tired, and experience discomfort when using the toilet.
As outlined by Endometriosis UK, other key symptoms include: bleeding from the bowel, pain while urinating as well as back and leg pain.
Endometriosis can occasionally be diagnosed with ultrasounds scans – but keyhole surgery is the most common form of diagnosis.
How is endometriosis treated? What is perimenopause?
There is no cure for endometriosis, but it can be managed, and there are a number of approaches for doing this.
Some women are prescribed pain medications which target inflammation, such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Meanwhile, others are given hormonal treatment to limit the production of oestrogen, which encourages endometriosis tissue to grow.
These treatments include oral contraceptives including the combined pill, or intrauterine systems (more commonly known as the coil).
However, some women, like Loose Women's Andrea McLean, opt for surgery.
The TV presenter a hysterctomy after she spent five years battling perimenopause – the transitional stage before menopause with unpleasant side-effects including hot flushes and heart palpitations.
Actress Lena Dunham, 31, also revealed that she’s had a full hysterectomy after suffering from endometriosis – but still hopes to have children.
Why do some women need a hysterectomy?
According to NHS guidelines, a hysterectomy – an operation to remove the womb – is rare, and usually only performed on women for whom other treatments haven't work, and who have decided to not have any more children.
It's a major operation – and only 30,500 were carried out in England in 2012 and 2013. It carries a risk of heavy bleeding, infection and damage to the bladder or bowel.
Other surgical options for endometriosis are a laparotomy and laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). These methods both work to remove endometriosis tissue.
Source: Read Full Article