Every month a woman creates a new endometrial lining in her uterus, which, if she does not fall pregnant in that month, is shed during menstruation.
For 5-15% of women, they also make tissue OUTSIDE of the uterus that is similar to the tissue formed inside the uterus. Most commonly found in the ovary, it is can also be found in fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, bowel, and bladder.
Like the endometrial lining of the uterus, this tissue responds to the monthly hormonal fluctuations, and it builds up and sheds. But unlike the tissue in the uterus, which is expelled monthly, it has nowhere to go.
This results in pain. Lots of pain. The endometrial tissue forms adhesion’s that may look like a spiderweb, connecting organs internally that usually have space between them. The tissue causes inflammation, scar tissue and cysts.
The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis are:
- Painful periods
- Pain before period
- Pain during ovulation
- Lower back pain
- Pain during and after sex
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pain when having a wee
- Abnormal bleeding is linked as well, like super heavy periods, or spotting. Some women, however, do not experience any of these symptoms and only find out when they unsuccessfully try to conceive a baby.
20-50 per cent of issues with fertility may be caused by endometriosis.
This occurs for a number of reasons. The adhesions may block tubes; it distorts the proper anatomy of the pelvic organs and may interfere with egg development. With the way the egg moves down the tubes, or with implantation. This could be due to scar tissue, or it could be due to the endometrium itself not developing correctly anymore.
The only way to get a definitive diagnosis is through a laparoscopy. Find a surgeon who will remove the adhesion’s by ablation or excision at the same time as diagnosing it. When the ablations are removed the chances of conception greatly improve.
What causes endometriosis?
There is no single reason why endometriosis occurs, as no single theory explains its pathogenesis. So, finding out the reason why it is occurring in each individual may take some time, but by exploring the reasons, you may help prevent recurrence. Most common reasons are issues with anatomy, genetics, hormonal imbalance, exposure to environmental toxins, and autoimmunity or dysfunctional immune response.
Treatment options for endometriosis
The main medical treatments are aimed at inhibiting growths, but to do this, they cease periods, thus ceasing ovulation, and fertility is not improved. Most symptoms return when stopping medications when you undertake this treatment option.
Ablation or removal of adhesions is an effective treatment for stage I and II endometriosis.
There are very little natural based medicines that are “evidence-based” treatments for endometriosis. Acupuncture and TCM and Mediterranean style anti-inflammatory diet may help.
Traditional herbal medicine may help reduce symptoms such as cramping and inflammation and help balance hormones.
In the clinic, I use a mix of TCM supplements, herbal medicine, nutritional medicine, exercise, pain management and mindfulness.
The best advice I can give is to seek help if you have pain associated with your cycle. This is not normal and may be a good sign that you need further investigation. Seek help until you are heard!”
For more information on fertility click HERE.