If you are browsing through this web site, chances are you have not heard of Endometriosis before. Endometriosis is pronounced EN-DOUGH-MEET-TRI-OH-SIS, but many sufferers and their families shorten the name to Endo. The following discusses Endometriosis.
Endo is a disease that affects 1 in 4 women. Surprised? So are most women when they are diagnosed with the disease. Many sufferers easily recall the shock when a doctor tells them that they have a chronic, lifetime disease with numerous symptoms with no cure.
One of the more interesting things about Endo is that it usually takes 5 to 8 years for a woman to be diagnosed with the disease! Most sufferers have been told that they are hypochondriacs, or worse, before they are finally diagnosed as the symptoms of Endo can be confused with many other illnesses. Diagnosis can only be successful when an operation called a laparoscopy is performed. There is no other way to diagnose Endometriosis.
Doctors also seem to be reluctant to offer any further advice for menstrual problems other than the Pill, so many women have the disease but go for years without being diagnosed. Diagnosis usually takes place when a doctor is informed enough to detect it or the patient is forceful enough to demand second, third, fourth, even fifth opinions.
So what is Endometriosis? Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus appears in areas outside of the uterus. Hmmmmm, appears, you say? Well, doctors have many theories as to why it happens, but no definite answers.
Endo can either be microscopic cells that attach to any tissue or organs, or it can be small to large cysts that can eventually grow and burst inside a woman's body. Endo can also be represented as adhesions. Adhesions are very painful sticky masses that can virtually glue organs together. For some lucky people they can have microscopic cells, cysts and adhesions that return time after time.
The size and placement of Endo cells outside of the uterus generally have little bearing on the pain and discomfit. Some women just have the tiny little cells implanted in a few places but suffer from chronic pain every waking moment. Other women can have cysts and not even have a symptom that something is wrong.
The endo cells can appear anywhere within the body. There have been documented cases where endo has appeared on the lungs, in the knee, in the nose (which resulted in the sufferer having monthly nosebleeds!) but Endo mainly occurs in the area outside of the uterus, on any or all of the reproductive organs, the bowel, the outside uterus wall and the bladder.
The only way to currently treat the disease is a series of hormone treatments and repeated surgeries. The side-effects of some hormone treatments can be worse than the disease itself. It is a temporary measure only. Surgery can remove the cells, cysts and adhesions, but unfortunately Endo often returns, therefore the surgery option for most women is also a stopgap measure.
Endometriosis is not a simple case of having a few menstrual cramps and problems or having a low pain threshold. Endometriosis is not a 'visible' disease. Sufferers may look fine on the outside, but that is from years of training, years of pretending to feel well enough to continue through each and every day.
This disease affects all aspects of health and quality of life and with no cure in sight, many sufferers have to experiment with stronger painkillers and new hormone treatments to try and control the pain. Endo sufferers are forced to miss work, study and family commitments because they have:
- many symptoms that can be disguised as other illnesses such as chronic menstrual and ovulation cramping, bowel problems, painful sexual intercourse, lower back pain, nausea, headaches, fluid retention and many more
- less resistance to immune disorders such as glandular fever, influenza, hayfever, and asthma
- side effects from short-term and long-term medications
- reactions to hormone treatments
- repeated minor and major surgeries.
Just as with most diseases, there are many myths. Here are a few commonly known for Endometriosis.
MYTH: Pregnancy cures Endometriosis.
TRUTH: Pregnancy may reduce symptoms of Endometriosis and may make one feel like she is cured, but the symptoms will be back.
MYTH: You cannot conceive with Endometriosis.
TRUTH: Endometriosis can impair fertility, but many women conceive with various degrees of Endometriosis.
MYTH: Surgery cures Endometriosis.
TRUTH: Surgery may provide long-term elimination of symptoms, but it does not stop whatever is causing Endometriosis. Endometriosis and its symptoms return in about 20% of all cases. Surgery for Endometriosis does not enhance fertility.
MYTH: Lots of Endometriosis means lots of pain.
TRUTH: There is a correlation between the amount of Endometriosis and pain. But small amounts located at nerve endings results in crippling pain.
MYTH: A hysterectomy cures Endometriosis.
TRUTH: Women are misled to believe that after a hysterectomy their pain will go away. The disease could already have spread to the nonreproductive organs as well.
If you are interested in researching Endometriosis any further, please feel free to venture the following compiled collection of links.
If you are suffering from Endometriosis, they're on many places on the web where you may find support, such as the following:
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