ENDOMETRIOSIS: When the lining of the womb goes rogue

Endometriosis is a condition that affects 1 in 10 women globally, and most women who have this condition don’t even know they do!

It occurs when tissues (endometrium) that normally line the inside of the womb grow outside the womb. With endometriosis, the tissue can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the intestines.

What does the ‘endometrium’ mean?

The endometrium is the inner lining of the womb where a fertilized egg implants as the baby develops as it gets its nutrients from the placenta.

To achieve this, a thick layer of tissue is formed in the womb during ovulation, this layer breaks away as a mixture of blood and tissues, flowing out of the vagina as menses in the absence of a pregnancy.

 What Causes Endometriosis?

The actual cause is unknown, however, researchers believed it’s caused by several factors including;

  • Retrograde Menstruation: A scenario when menstrual blood containing tissues that line inside of the womb, flows back into the Fallopian tube or into the pelvis instead of falling out of the body through the vagina.
  • Immune system disorder: This arises when the body fails to recognize its own cells and destroys the endometrial-like tissues growing outside the womb.
  • When the blood vessels transport these endometrial cells to other parts of the body where it’s not needed.

Who is at risk?

Several conditions predispose a woman to develop endometriosis, some include the following;

  • Women who haven’t had a child or being pregnant.
  • Women with a family history of this condition.
  • Women who have longer than average menstrual cycle (over 30days cycle) or irregular periods.
  • Those that started their menstrual periods early.
  • Women with hormonal imbalance and other abnormal conditions that can affect the female reproductive system

How would you know you have endometriosis?

The primary symptom is usually pelvic pain which is commonly experienced during periods.

  1. Back pains during menstrual periods.
  2. Severe menstrual cramps.

3.Unusual or heavy bleeding during periods.

  1. Constipation, Diarrhea, Fatigue, Nausea or Bloating.
  2. Blood in urine or stool.
  3. Painful sexual intercourse.
  4. Infertility.

If you observe any or some signs as mentioned above, kindly visit your doctor for proper diagnosis.

On visiting, a pelvic examination, biopsy and ultrasound scan are some tests that may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

How is it treated?

Endometriosis can be managed with Pain medications which are given to reduce painful menstruation.

Hormone therapy can prevent thickening of endometrial cells outside the womb, as well as prevent bleeding.

Surgery is used to remove scarred or damaged endometrial tissues outside the womb, removal of cyst on the ovaries, or eventual removal of the womb (if appropriate for the individual).

Endometriosis may seem as a condition that affects only women, but in reality, it affects men too. Mothers, sisters, or friends can develop this condition, if 1 in 10 women globally has it, then it should be talked about more often than it currently is. Reducing the stigma associated with painful or irregular periods will go a long way to ensure that women get the help they need.

Complied by

Pharm. Chinyere Chima And Pharm. Greatman Adiela.