Do you face unbearable pain during your periods? Is the pain interrupting your life, not only on a daily basis, but also during intercourse? Do you know that you might be suffering from Endometriosis? Yes, it is a common problem among women that often goes undiagnosed, because women are either too shy to discuss such pains, or are told to get used to them. It is high time to understand what is endometriosis and how will you know that you may be suffering from it? Let's take a look:

What is endometriosis?

To put it technically: when the uterine lining called Endometrium is in the wrong position, it is called endometriosis. Sounds complicated? Let's break it down for you. Every month like clockwork your uterus prepares itself to receive a fertalised egg by making it nice and cushioned with the endometrium and every month, during menstruation, you shed that thick inner lining of blood from inside the uterus. Now, if this endometrium grows in some other place, like outside of the ovary, it is called endometriosis. This wrongly placed lining will result in bleeding there. But this blood may not find an outlet. In case of the uterus, there's an opening for the blood, but in other places, there is no opening. This leads to a hematoma. As the blood gets absorbed, scarring is caused.

What causes endometriosis?

As you understand, the internal plumbing of a woman is a complicated one. So, all the causes of endometriosis are not known. However, endometriosis is commonly associated with women who have not (or cannot) give birth, especially if they have reached their 30s. However, pregnancy neither prevents nor cures this disorder as it is a result of hormonal issues. The problem mainly develops between 25 and 40 years of age. It has been observed that women with a family history of endometriosis have a higher risk of developing this condition. If the length of the cycle is too long or too short, and if there's heavy bleeding during menstruation, it can lead to endometriosis.

What are the risks of endometriosis?

Studies say that about one-third to half of the women clinically diagnosed with endometriosis have to struggle with infertility. It can also cause chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Endometriosis may not exhibit any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms. In fact, most of the symptoms are not really noticed, as they are common issues that women are taught to deal with regularly, and are told to ignore. However, keep an eye out for:

  • * Severe abdominal pain
  • * Backache during menstruation
  • * Painful intercourse
  • * Heavy bleeding during menstruation
  • * Painful urination during periods
  • * Painful bowel movement during periods
  • * Difficulty in getting pregnant

Most of the symptoms of endometriosis are the same as those of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

How can endometriosis be diagnosed?

If you notice a combination of the symptoms mentioned above, it is a good idea to visit a gynaecologist; especially if they are coupled with the presence of the possible causes of endometriosis, like the age factor, not having given birth till the thirties, family history, irregular or abnormal menstrual cycles, etc. Treatment is required to curb the chances of further damage or discomfort. For that, the doctor will perform a manual pelvic exam, followed by an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound, when necessary. The doctor may also ask for a laparoscopy to view the condition clearly.

How can endometriosis be cured?

After the proper diagnosis of the condition, the treatments will start, and will vary based on whether the woman wants a child, does not want a child, or is incapable of having a child, i.e. has infertility. The aim is to suppress the ovary, for which oral contraceptive pills may be recommended to prevent hormones from boosting the condition further. Another form of treatment is to give a high dosage of progesterone, to counter this estrogen-fuelled condition. The third method is a surgical technique in which the implants are burnt.

In addition, some basic lifestyle changes can be made to keep the condition under control. Eating gut-friendly, anti-inflammatory food, practising yoga and kegel exercises, opting for traditional Chinese treatments and acupuncture, regular massages, and staying mentally healthy by using medical help and support groups are known to help women in this condition to lead a normal life.