Endometriosis is an incurable disease that affects millions of women across continents. With the myths and misinformation surrounding this often-painful condition, it can take as long as seven years before it is diagnosed.
To ensure early diagnosis and minimal complications arising out of endometriosis, here are five facts that every woman should know:
- Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that lines the inner walls of the uterus (womb) appears outside of the uterus in places such as fallopian tubes, ovaries, pelvis, etc. This tissue, which is known as the endometrium, bleeds just as the normal endometrium inside the uterus during menstruation. However, unlike the bleeding that occurs within the uterus, which has a way to leave the body, this abnormal tissue has no place to go and over time leads to scarring, forming of cysts, inflammation and in some cases, damage to the pelvic region.
- Endometriosis can affect a woman of any age. It can start as soon as the individual has their first period and can last until after menopause as the ovaries are still producing hormones, albeit in smaller amounts. Some individuals with endometriosis may not experience any visible symptoms until later or even never.
- The symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain which may begin before the period and last till after the period is over. Lower back and abdominal pain are also common. Pain during and after intercourse may also occur. Painful urination or bowel movement during menstrual cycle, excessive menstrual bleeding, intermenstrual bleeding are also symptoms of endometriosis. Other symptoms include fatigue, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation or bloating. However, not everyone with endometriosis will experience these symptoms and not at the same level of intensity.
- The symptoms of endometriosis are similar to irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, or even a painful period which is why it goes undiagnosed more often than not. A thorough differential including a physical such as a pelvic exam, MRI, Ultrasound, and/or laparoscopy. The doctor will determine the most appropriate diagnostic method for you, depending on your symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle routines.
- There is no cure for endometriosis yet. However, there are effective treatments such as hormone therapy, conservative surgery (removal of endometrial implants), or surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries.
The most preferred treatment is the use of contraceptive pills. Using hormonal oral contraceptives such as Mankind’s Unwanted -21 that controls the hormonal build-up, preventing the growth of endometrial tissue every month. This results in lighter, and shorter menstrual days. Symptoms of endometriosis reduce considerably with a lighter and shorter period. Using Mankind’s Unwanted-72, which is a continuous-cycle contraceptive, can aid better to reduce endometriosis-related pain. These contraceptive pills are India’s No. 1 Contraceptive Tablet; they are readily available and hence, an effective and accessible treatment option.
In terms of home remedies, using a heating pad, taking warm baths; OTC anti-inflammatories or painkillers can help alleviate the endometriosis pain.
If you experience symptoms associated with endometriosis, ensure that you immediately consult a gynaecologist.