What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder where tissues behaving like the lining of the uterus actually appear outside the uterus. These tissues are found in places like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic lining, or bladder. Endometriosis causes symptoms during the reproductive age, that is, when an individual is in between 12 to 60 years of age. It is not uncommon for many people to remain undiagnosed even with the condition. Endometriosis is a challenging condition to deal with. It has both physical and mental manifestations.
The main symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain that is common during menstruation. Although it is not uncommon for women to experience some abdominal pain during periods, the pain worsens in case of endometriosis.
The following tests are done to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis:
Your doctor examines your pelvic manually to feel any abnormalities. It is often not possible to feel endometriosis during a physical examination until your endometriosis has caused a cyst.
High-frequency sound waves are used to create images of the inside of your abdomen. A device called a transducer is used to capture the images. It is either pressed on your abdomen or inserted within your vagina. Ultrasound successfully identifies any cyst caused by endometriosis, although it won’t definitely say whether you have endometriosis or not.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to replicate the exact images of organs within your body. It gives accurate information about the location and size of endometriosis.
During the process of laparoscopy, A tiny incision is made near your navel, and a laparoscope is inserted to look for signs of endometriosis.
Eating the right kind of food may help in protecting you against endometriosis. Many studies have found that the impact of diet in endometriosis is huge. The kind of food that you consume influences processes such as inflammation and prostaglandin metabolism. Pesticides and insecticides can be consumed mistakenly through certain products. This can be a risk factor for endometriosis.
Increase fruit and vegetable intake:
Consumption of high amounts of fruits and vegetables prevent the development of endometriosis. Overconsumption of red meat like beef and ham increases your chances of acquiring endometriosis. Red meat contains high amounts of fat. This increases the production of prostaglandins in the body. This increases the production of estrogen in the body. Higher levels of estrogen can cause a hike in tissue growth. Therefore, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables can decrease your chances of getting endometriosis.
Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids:
Increase in the amount of consumption of Trans- fat increases risk of endometriosis by 48 percent. On the other hand, women whose diets consist of omega-3 rich food items, have comparatively low the risk of endometriosis.
It might be difficult to exercise while you’re in pain. But regular physical activity decreases the pain and discomfort associated with menstruation. Exercise helps patients of endometriosis in the following ways:
- Increasing circulation of blood
- Maintaining oxygen flow to body parts
- Reducing stress
- Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which reduces pain
Women who exercise on a daily basis have fewer chances of developing endometriosis. Women who do not indulge in high-intensity physical activity are more likely to develop endometriosis. Physical activities, like running, swimming, or biking, may relieve your symptoms. Yoga can also strengthen your muscles.
Manage your stress levels:
Endometriosis increases stress levels in your body. Also, an increase in stress levels can worsen the symptoms of endometriosis. Thus, this is a never-ending cycle. Therefore, it is imperative to manage stress and use techniques to calm down. Relaxation techniques like autogenic training (Telling your body to calm down through verbal commands), Progressive muscle relaxation (Includes tensing and relaxing muscles), visualization and deep breathing can be used to lower stress levels in your body.
Try alternative therapies:
Alternative therapies are under research to improve the conditions of those with endometriosis. Alternative treatment methods would include:
Osteopathic manipulative technique: Moves muscles and joints to ease the pain.
Acupuncture: Relieves pain by interfering with pain pathways and the release of pain-relieving brain chemicals.
Vitamin and dietary supplements:
Consumption of Vitamin A and Vitamin D supplements prevents endometriosis owing to their antioxidant activity.
At times you may be prescribed medications to relieve the symptoms of endometriosis. Your age, symptoms, and previous treatments will be taken into consideration. Pill reminder will help you in taking pills.
Over the counter pain, relievers like Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given to the patients to relieve pain symptoms. Use pill reminder to help you take pills.
Hormone therapy can be given to limit the endometrial tissue growth and keep any new tissues from growing. Hormone therapies suggested by doctors are:
Birth control pills
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists
- A progestin-only contraceptive implant or contraceptive injection
- Danzol (to limit the growth of endometrial tissue)
Although these therapies effectively reduce the symptoms, they have various implications.
If all of these steps fail to manage your symptoms of endometriosis, your doctor might suggest surgery. The procedure undertaken for surgery depends on your symptoms and whether you would want to conceive in the future or not. Before choosing the procedure, know about your options and their implications. They common surgeries performed are:
It involves the insertion of a thin telescope in the abdominal cavity to remove endometrial tissue patches or large cysts. It can also be used to treat a damaged organ surgically.
It is a major open operation; performed when the endometriosis is large and severe. In these cases, laparoscopy is not an option, or the gynecologist is not confident about performing a laparoscopy.
In a hysterectomy, the uterus is removed. Along with it the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and cervix may also be removed. It might be partial or complete. It is one of the most common procedures performed in gynecology. It causes early menopause. It also prevents you from getting pregnant in the future. Hormone supplements are given to cope up with the loss of ovaries. This is only performed when the woman does not want to conceive in the future.
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