What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside of your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis.
Although endometriosis is sometimes called "the silent disease," it's estimated that 1 in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 44 have it. Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop.
There's no cure for endometriosis, but treatments can help relieve pain and promote fertility. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many women with endometriosis are able to achieve pregnancy.
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown. One theory is that the condition results from retrograde menstruation — when menstrual flow containing endometrial cells backs up through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of leaving the body. These wayward endometrial cells attach to other surfaces in the pelvic cavity, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed each month as hormonal changes occur. This buildup of blood and tissue can cause pain, especially during your period.
Hormone-like substances produced by endometrial tissue (prostaglandins) may play a role in the development of scar tissue (adhesions) and deep implants associated with endometriosis. The immune system may fail to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus (endometriosis), allowing the condition to persist.
Genetic factors also might be involved because endometriosis occurs more often in certain families. Thus, if a mother or sister has endometriosis, you're more likely to develop the condition.
Other possible explanations for the development of endometriosis include:
- metaplasia — a change in a cell type that occurs when one type of tissue is replaced by another type of tissue; this may happen following an injury or inflammation in pelvic tissues
- embryonal cell rest — areas of endometrial cells (located outside the uterus) that are left over from your embryonic development; these cells have the ability to mature into adult endometrial tissue
- lymphatic or vascular transport — the spread of endometrial cells through blood or lymph vessels to other parts of the body
- surgical scar implantation — the transfer of endometrial cells to other pelvic organs during surgery
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your period. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual period, women with endometriosis typically describe painful cramps that begin before menstruation and continue after their period ends. They also tend to have pain during intercourse, pain with bowel movements or urination, excessive bleeding during menstruation or spotting between periods. Endometriosis can also cause infertility.
The symptoms are usually spotted on the lower abdomen, lower back, and rectum. However, in some cases, endometriosis can spread to other parts of the body. There is no one definitive test for endometriosis, but your doctor may suspect that you have the condition if you have pelvic pain and:
- You haven't responded to treatment for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as ovarian cysts or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- You have fertility problems
- A family member has endometriosis
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Endometriosis is often diagnosed based on your symptoms and a pelvic exam. If your doctor suspects endometriosis, they may also recommend one or more of the following tests:
- Ultrasound. This imaging test uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of your organs. An ultrasound can be used to check for abnormal growths in the uterus or ovaries.
- Laparoscopy. This surgical procedure involves making a small incision in your abdomen and inserting a thin, lighted tube called a laparoscope. The laparoscope allows your doctor to see inside your abdomen and look for endometriosis lesions.
- MRI. This imaging test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your organs and tissues.
After all those examinations you will have to discuss with your doctor what are the best options for you. Treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are and whether you want to become pregnant.
What are the treatment alternatives?
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can help relieve pain and improve fertility. The most common treatment for mild endometriosis is over-the-counter pain medication. If over-the-counter pain medication doesn't relieve your pain, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication.
Other treatments for endometriosis include:
- Hormonal therapy. This treatment uses hormonal medications, such as birth control pills, to control the hormones responsible for the buildup of endometrial tissue each month. This helps reduce the pain associated with endometriosis.
- Surgery. This is usually recommended for women who have severe endometriosis or who are trying to become pregnant. Surgery involves removing the endometrial tissue that has grown outside the uterus.
- Infertility treatment. If you're having trouble getting pregnant, your doctor may recommend fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
It’s important to talk to your doctor about all your treatment options and what might work best for you. Endometriosis can be a painful and frustrating condition, but there are treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
What vitamins should I take for endometriosis?
For endometriosis, the following vitamins and supplements may be recommended:
- Vitamin B6. This vitamin is needed for proper hormone balance. It can be taken in supplement form or found in foods such as bananas, sweet potatoes, chicken, and fish.
- Vitamin E. This vitamin has anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce pain associated with endometriosis. It can be taken in supplement form or found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. They can be taken in supplement form or found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.
- GLA (gamma linolenic acid). This is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis. It can be taken in supplement form or found in evening primrose oil and black currant seed oil.
You should talk to your doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, as they may interact with other medications you're taking or have other side effects.
Can endometriosis be prevented?
Well, that is the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent endometriosis. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize the symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing. If you think you might have endometriosis, talk to your doctor. They can help diagnose the condition and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Such diseases are not easy to carry, but there is always a way out. Be strong! Endometriosis is a common and chronic condition that affects women of childbearing age. Though there is no cure, there are treatments available that can help relieve pain and improve fertility. If you think you might have endometriosis, talk to your doctor. They can help diagnose the condition and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Can you get pregnant if you have endometriosis?
Many women with endometriosis want to know if they can get pregnant. Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus. Pregnancy with endometriosis is possible, but endometriosis can make it harder to get pregnant. If you have endometriosis and are trying to get pregnant, you may want to talk to your doctor about treatments that can improve your chances of getting pregnant.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can help relieve symptoms and improve fertility. Surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue is one treatment option. Other options include medication to control pain and hormone therapy to stop the growth of endometriosis tissue. If you have endometriosis and are having trouble getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. With treatment, many women with endometriosis are able to get pregnant.
Getting pregnant with endometriosis can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with the condition and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
If you have endometriosis and are trying to get pregnant, here are some tips that may help:
- Talk to your doctor. Endometriosis can affect your fertility, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
- Get treated for endometriosis. Surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue is one treatment option. Other options include medication to control pain and hormone therapy to stop the growth of endometriosis tissue.
- Take care of yourself. Be sure to get enough rest and exercise, and eat a healthy diet.
- Stay positive. Getting pregnant with endometriosis can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with the condition and improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Getting pregnant with endometriosis can be a challenge, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you cope with the condition and improve your chances of getting pregnant. If you have endometriosis and are trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. With treatment, many women with endometriosis are able to get pregnant.
What are the chances of getting pregnant naturally with endometriosis?
The studies show that the chance of getting pregnant with endometriosis is about the same as for someone without endometriosis. However, if you have severe endometriosis, your chances may be lower.
How can I increase my chances of getting pregnant with endometriosis? There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant:
- See a fertility specialist: A fertility specialist can help you figure out what might be causing your infertility and offer treatment options.
- Try assisted reproductive technologies (ART): In vitro fertilization (IVF) or another ART procedure may be an option if you have severe endometriosis or other fertility problems.
- Use medication: Medications such as clomiphene citrate or letrozole can help stimulate ovulation.
What are the risks of pregnancy with endometriosis?
If you have endometriosis, you're at an increased risk of certain complications during pregnancy. There are a lot of myths out there about endometriosis and fertility. In general, the risks of pregnancy with endometriosis are similar to the risks associated with any other type of pregnancy. However, there are some specific risks that you should be aware of.
The most common complication associated with endometriosis is preterm labor. This occurs when labor begins before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Endometriosis can also cause the placenta to detach from the uterine wall prematurely. This is called placental abruption and can be dangerous for both mother and child. Additionally, endometriosis may increase the risk of cesarean delivery.
Another risk during pregnancy when you have endometriosis is the development of ovarian cysts. These are fluid-filled sacs that can grow on the ovaries. While most cysts are benign and cause no symptoms, some can rupture and cause pain or bleeding. If a cyst ruptures during pregnancy, it can be dangerous for both mother and child.
There are also some risks associated with endometriosis and fertility. Endometriosis can cause the fallopian tubes to become blocked, making it difficult for an egg to travel from the ovaries to the uterus. Additionally, endometriosis can damage the eggs or sperm, making it more difficult to conceive.
If you have endometriosis and are trying to get pregnant, it is important to talk to your doctor about your treatment options. With treatment, many women with endometriosis are able to get pregnant. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting pregnant, such as seeing a fertility specialist or using medication to stimulate ovulation. While there are some risks associated with pregnancy when you have endometriosis, the overall risks are similar to any other type of pregnancy.