What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is the term used to describe the disease where, tissue cells similar to the lining of the uterus develops in other parts of the body. These tissue cells share the common function of responding to hormones released by the ovaries causing bleeding in these organs. These organs in turn become inflamed and scarring is left resulting in painful adhesions. Endometriosis commonly affects the reproductive organs such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but has also been located in other areas such as the lungs and brain.

What causes Endometriosis?

Some factors that may lead to Endometriosis are:

  • Retrograde menstruation; the lining of the womb flowing backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen rather than leaving the body during the menstruation process.
  • Genetics
  • Lymphatic or circulatory spread
  • Metaplasia
What are the common signs and symptoms of Endometriosis?

Common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
  • abdominal or pelvic pain before and during a menstrual cycle
  • abdominal or pelvic pain when having intercourse
  • abdominal or pelvic pain when going to the toilet
  • spotting between menstrual cycles
  • bleeding from the bladder or bowel
  • changes in urination or bowel movements
  • feeling bloated
  • being tired and moody, especially around the time of your period
  • difficulty falling pregnant 

However, it is important to note that not everyone with endometriosis will experience symptoms.

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    How is Endometriosis diagnosed and treated?

    Endometriosis can only be diagnosed by a health professional; your doctor may take into account a number of factors and perform a number of tests before providing you with a final diagnosis. These may include:

    • a consultation to understand your symptoms and menstrual cycle
    • laparoscopy, keyhole surgery to inspect on the organs inside the abdominal and pelvic area
    • referral to a gynaecologist for further consultation

    Endometriosis can usually be treated using a number of methods including:

    • Hormone-based pills or implants with pain relief medications
    • Surgery to remove the endometriosis, including laparoscopic surgery, hysterectomy
    • Combination of medication and surgery
      What are the four stages of Endometriosis?

      Endometriosis has four stages:

      1. Stage 1 – Minimal
      2. Stage 2 – Mild
      3. Stage 3 – Moderate
      4. Stage 4 – Severe

      The patient’s stage of Endometriosis is based on the follow factors:

      • Exact location of occurrence
      • Extent of development of endometrial implants
      • Depth of endometriosis implants
      • Severity of scar tissue
      • Size of endometrial implants in the ovaries

      Commonly, patients are found to having superficial implants and mild scaring, classifying as stage 1 minimal or stage 2 mild. Patients classified as stage 3 moderate or stage 4 severe are found to developing cysts that result in severe scarring. It is important to note that the stage of endometriosis does not have an impact on the degree of symptoms the patient experiences, although infertility is common results of with stage four endometriosis.

        Does having Endometriosis affect your fertility?

        Endometriosis can affect a patient’s chances of falling pregnant, but it is important to note that most women who have mild endometriosis are not infertile. The link between infertility and endometriosis at present is unclear, although the severity of the condition and location of the tissue does have an impact on this.

        Research shows an estimated 70% of patients classified as mild to moderate endometriosis are able to fall pregnant without treatment. However, even for patients classified with severe endometriosis a natural conception process is possible.