Managing Endometriosis

Lining the uterus in preparation of fertilization is the endometrium. The endometrium is a tissue that lines the interior of the womb. The role of the endometrium is to provide a place for a fertilized egg to implant and to support the development of the placenta. However if there is no implantation, hormonal changes result in the shedding off of the endometrium just before menstruation.
In spite of the very important role the endometrium has to play within the uterus, it sometimes grows outside the uterus causing an anomaly known as endometriosis.  It may grow on the ovaries, surface of the uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina etc. but rarely appears on parts such as the brain, skin and lungs. Endometriosis growths are not cancerous but can be problematic.
In 2% - 50% of women with endometriosis, there are no symptoms observed but it may be chronic in some others. The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding (between menstrual periods), digestive problems and infertility (if the ovaries or fallopian tube is affected). During the menstrual period, this pain can be excruciating making the person feel that it is a normal part of menstrual period. It is estimated that 40% - 60% of women with painful periods have endometriosis.
It can be caused by a surgical scar, the transport of endometrial cells through the blood, immune system disorder or a flow back of menstrual flow to the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. Risk factors of endometriosis include a family history of such, pelvic infection, any condition that hinders the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body and not giving birth.
Low levels of oestrogen can help prevent endometriosis. This explains why menopausal women experience relief from the symptoms and pregnant women are temporarily relieved too. This can be achieved by exercising regularly and reducing intake of alcohol and caffeine.

Treatment involves the use of medication such as pain killers or hormone-based therapy. Surgery can also be a form of treatment. Regular exercise, warm baths and use of heating pads are home remedies that may help to subside pain.
By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

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