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endometriosis

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  • Endometriosis is a gynecological condition wherein the endometrium, or the tissue lining the uterus, builds up during a woman’s menstrual cycle and sheds when the woman does not become pregnant
  • Be reminded that endometriosis is actually not a form of cancer, even if symptoms such as pelvic pain, pressure and bloating are also seen among ovarian cancer patients
 

What Is Endometriosis?

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Endometriosis is a gynecological condition wherein the endometrium, or the tissue lining the uterus, builds up during a woman’s menstrual cycle and sheds when the woman does not become pregnant.

The body of a woman with endometriosis develops tissue that may resemble and act like endometrial tissue in areas outside of the uterus.1

This misplaced tissue responds to the hormonal changes associated with the monthly menstrual cycle by building up and breaking down in the same way the endometrium does, and this causes small bleeding inside your pelvis.2

Endometriosis may induce inflammation, swelling and scarring of normal tissue close to the endometriosis implants. An endometrioma, or a blister surrounded by a fibrous cyst, can also form when blood implants itself in normal ovarian tissue.3 Endometriosis can affect the following body parts:4

Ovaries

Fallopian tubes

Uterosacral ligaments (ligaments supporting the uterus)

Posterior cul-de-sac (space between the uterus and rectum)

Anterior cul-de-sac (space between the uterus and bladder)

Outer surface of the uterus

Lining of the pelvic cavity

In some cases, a woman may also feel pain in these areas:5

Intestines

Rectum

Bladder

Vagina

Cervix

Vulva

Abdominal surgery scars


Having a potential case of endometriosis checked as soon as possible could make a difference, as there are complications linked to this condition. These include infertility, development of ovarian cysts, inflammation, proliferation of scar tissue and development of adhesions (fine or dense tissue that are similar to cobwebs6), and intestinal and bladder complications.7

Be on the Lookout for Pain in These Body Parts

Women with endometriosis often experience intense chronic pain, especially in the:8,9

Abdomen — Often felt below the stomach and above the groin, abdominal pain caused by endometriosis resembles a sudden, twinge-like pain, as if your stomach was scorched with a hot tool.

A tugging sensation can also be felt, wherein the inside of your body feels like it has been stuck on an unseen surface. Even worse, there is no obvious pattern to this pain, and it can strike you when you’re awake or asleep and last for hours, days or weeks.

Back — Endometriosis patients experience back pain because of two aspects. First is the location of the source of pain — your womb and ovaries are near your back. Second, a woman with endometriosis often has to move or place herself in such a way that may lessen the pain, but this unfortunately yields further back pain.

Legs — Pain may move down into the hip or leg in some occasions, resulting in the difficulty or inability to walk. This happens because adhesions may have a negative effect on your sciatic nerve.

Reproductive system (during the monthly menstrual cycle) — Dysmenorrhea, or pain that resembles writhing or cramping in the stomach towards the groin, is usually felt during menstruation. However, endometriosis patients experience more agonizing pain, and this is actually one of the early signs that a woman has the condition.

Emotional Pain Is Another Potentially Crippling Effect

Endometriosis patients can also experience migraines and headaches, and muscle pain brought on by fatigue. Sadly, it doesn’t end there — emotional pain or trauma is also common in endometriosis patients because they often feel that:10

? The condition cannot be cured and the pain is not manageable at all

? There’s a lack of understanding or awareness on what the patient is going through

? They may realize that their ability to have children may significantly decrease

? Their relationships and friendships may be affected

? They may not be able to enjoy or do the things they once liked to do

? Working can be difficult, and in some cases they may not even be able to do their work

The Link Between Endometriosis and Deadly Cancers

Despite endometriosis being a very painful and widespread11 condition, it is not malignant or life-threatening.12 However, what could happen because of endometriosis, is raise a woman’s risk for diseases such as endometrioid ovarian cancer and clear cell carcinoma.13

This is according to a study reported in the journal Lancet Oncology, wherein researchers from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC) did an analysis of 13 case-control studies. The researchers also concluded that endometriosis is linked to low-grade serious ovarian carcinomas, with endometriosis patients having twice the risk.14

However, be reminded that endometriosis is actually not a form of cancer, even if symptoms such as pelvic pain, pressure and bloating are also seen among ovarian cancer patients.15

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Endometriosis: An Introduction

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Symptoms of Endometriosis

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