Whereas endometriosis is a typical situation, affecting as many as one in each 10 American ladies, it’s complicated and sometimes misunderstood. Endometriosis happens when tissue very similar to the tissue that usually traces the uterus — referred to as the endometrium — begins to develop elsewhere within the physique. These growths could trigger ache, scarring, and, in some cases, infertility.

One examine exhibits it may well take as much as seven years for a girl to get a prognosis of endometriosis as a result of signs could mimic different frequent circumstances, similar to irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions concerning the illness, together with the 5 myths under, could preserve some ladies from looking for assist. Discuss to your well being care crew for those who’re involved about painful durations or different attainable symptoms of endometriosis, similar to long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.

5 myths — and the info — about endometriosis

Fable 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Girls with endometriosis generally assume that their signs are a standard a part of menstruation, and once they do search assist they’re generally dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However in truth, one thing way more critical is happening than interval cramps. One concept is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is outdoors the uterus, it continues to answer hormonal alerts and produce chemical compounds that trigger irritation and ache.

Throughout the course of the menstrual cycle, this endometrium-like tissue thickens and ultimately bleeds. However in contrast to endometrial tissue within the uterus, which is ready to drain by way of the vagina every month, blood from displaced tissue has nowhere to go. As an alternative, it swimming pools close to the affected organs and tissues, irritating and inflaming them. The result’s ache, and generally the event of scar tissue that may kind an online, fusing organs collectively. This will result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.

Fable 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The commonest places for endometriosis growths to happen are throughout the pelvis, similar to on the outer floor of the uterus, the bladder, and the fallopian tubes. However endometriosis could happen wherever within the physique. Hardly ever, endometrium-like tissue has been discovered within the lungs, for instance.

Fable 3: Endometriosis is all the time painful. Not everybody with endometriosis experiences ache. It’s not unusual for a girl to be taught she has endometriosis solely after she begins investigating why she is having problem getting pregnant. Endometriosis is the main reason for infertility in the US. Having the situation additionally will increase the chance of miscarriage and different issues in being pregnant. Nevertheless, the excellent news is that the overwhelming majority of girls with endometriosis are finally in a position to have a baby.

Fable 4: Endometriosis could be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there isn’t a recognized solution to forestall it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can scale back your threat, in accordance with the US Workplace of Girls’s Well being. Estrogen can gas the expansion of endometriosis and amplify signs. You possibly can scale back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception methodology, dropping pounds if you’re chubby, and getting common train.

Fable 5: Endometriosis all the time improves after menopause. Though endometriosis signs happen most frequently throughout menstruation, for some ladies they final nicely after month-to-month cycles finish. Even after a girl goes by way of menopause, the ovaries proceed to supply small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths could proceed to answer the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t carry aid to all. Some ladies who’ve gone by way of menopause could go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nevertheless, these procedures are usually not all the time profitable in controlling ache. Hormonal therapies, too, look like much less efficient in ladies after menopause.

For details about treating endometriosis ache, see this post from the Harvard Well being Weblog.

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