Endometriosis is a still mysterious disease associated with the excessive growth of uterine mucous membrane (endometrium) outside the uterine cavity. It affects primarily young women in reproductive age and girls. When a body functions properly, endometrium grows every month in the uterine cavity and exfoliates during menstruation. In the case of patients with endometriosis, the cells of this tissue appear and grow in the menstrual cycle in various parts of the body. Most often, the growths of endometrium appear in abdominal cavity – among others on ovaries, fallopian tubes or in pelvic peritoneum, causing pain and other ailments; however, cases of endometriosis in other locations have also been diagnosed.
Endometriosis can have serious consequences; it may also be related to infertility and increased risk of cancer. Its symptoms usually exacerbate over time, although in some patients their cyclical resolution and recurrence was observed. It is worth to diagnose in advance the cause of problems which might suggest endometriosis and introduce appropriate medical procedures.
Causes of endometriosis
Although several theories concerning the sources of endometriosis were formulated, none of them have yet been finally confirmed. There is also no approach which would describe and explain all mechanisms of the occurrence of this disease. This hinders the development of prophylactic actions and of a standard, effective method of endometriosis treatment.
The most popular theories name among the causes of endometriosis: the backflow of endometrial cells to the body’s cavity (retrograde menstruation), genetic predispositions, immunological disorders, metaplasia, transport of cells via the lymphatic system and blood vessels or environmental factors. However, this issue is beginning to be viewed comprehensively, with each of the causes listed above treated as a certain component.
Most scientists who study and try to discover the causes of endometriosis suggest the impact of estrogen on the development of this disease. For this reason, a significant number of therapies aiming at counteracting endometriosis at the same time focus on reducing the amount of this hormone in a woman’s body. At the same time, a single method of treatment in this disease has not yet been developed.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, worsening during the menstrual cycle. The ailments in women with endometriosis can be especially noticeable during menstruation, ovulation, in intestines during period, while urinating, during or after sexual intercourse, and in lower back. It is worth talking to the doctor also in case of frequent diarrheas, constipations or bloating and long-lasting feeling of fatigue, weakness or a general feeling of being unwell. Endometriosis should also be suspected in case of problems with conceiving; however, in each case, the diagnosis of this disease must be accompanied by ruling out other causes of infertility and carrying out special tests.
Diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis
Given the ambiguity of the causes of endometriosis, its diagnosis is also difficult. The gold standard here is laparoscopy, which in most cases allows the ultimate verification and confirmation of the diagnosis. The additional procedures include ultrasound and histopathological examinations and CA – 124.
The treatment of endometriosis most often has two objectives – elimination of the disease symptoms and treatment of fertility disorders. Depending on the individual situation of a patient, physicians recommend pharmacological or surgical treatment and – in the case of women who plan the enlargement of their family – the use of assisted reproductive techniques (induction of ovulation, in vitro fertilization).