Women face many challenges in life, especially when it comes to health. They have a higher risk to many health issues as they are more likely to be diagnosed with certain illnesses than men. There are many conditions that women should be aware of. One such condition that should be given special attention is known as “Endometriosis”.
Many women are not aware of such conditions and the consequences. Therefore it is important to bring recognition towards these types of diseases and grow public awareness about the causes and effects in order to ensure proper health of women.
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that occurs when endometrial tissues grow outside the uterine cavity. The lining of the uterus known as the ‘endometrium’ usually consists of endometrial tissue. However, when this tissue is present elsewhere, it can cause complications.
Endometriosis is one of the most common gynaecological diseases and requires proper treatment. It usually occurs in women of reproductive age. This disease is associated with pelvic pain and fertility. While the pain can be controlled and reduced by medical therapy, it is not quite efficacious to treat infertility through therapy.
The health capsule got in touch with Doctor Ruwan Silva, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, to help create awareness about this perilous disease.
According to Dr Ruwan Silva, endometriosis is a common disorder among young women, where at least one in ten women are affected.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Dr Silva explained that endometriosis is when tissues similar to the present in the inner lining of the womb are present in the pelvis, outside the womb, over the ovaries and fallopian tubes. When these misplaced tissues break down just as the regular lining in the womb causing menstruation, it has no way to discharge from the body.
The endometrial tissue may also grow in the vagina, cervix, bowel or bladder. And it can also spread to other parts such as the lungs in certain rare cases.
CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
Dr Ruwan Silva stated that the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown. Although certain theories exist, they have not been scientifically proven.
According to Dr Ruwan Silva, the endometriotic tissues are hormone dependent. As the inner lining of the womb sheds monthly due to menstruation, the endometriotic tissues that lie outside the womb bleeds causing severe pain, inflammation and scarring which leads to damage of the pelvic organs.
Dr Ruwan also stated that the disease has a genetic origin and therefore females of families associated with the disease are more prone to develop the condition.
Endometriosis also causes infertility. Dr Ruwan explained that endometriosis is common among infertile couples and that one in seven couples suffers from infertility. Endometriosis causes tubal damages and blocks the fallopian tubes leading to infertility. The infertile women who experience severe pain during menstruation should undergo laparoscopy to avoid endometriosis.
SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS
Common symptoms of endometriosis include abnormal menstruation, pelvic pain, cramps, fatigue, nausea and diarrhoea. Pain with intercourse, bowel movements and urination are also common symptoms.
Other symptoms such as severe migraine and pain in the lower back can occur during the menstruation period.
Dr Silva also mentioned about the “chocolate cysts” that is caused by ovarian endometriosis. This causes for the monthly bleeding to accumulate and become a chocolate like material which leads to severe pain during menstruation and causes fertility issues.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
The “chocolate cysts” that are formed due to ovarian endometriosis can be diagnosed by conducting a Pelvic Ultrasound Scan. Also, laparoscopy will provide definite diagnosis of the condition. The MRI scan will help to recognize the extent of the disease so that the required treatment can be received in the right time.
Dr Silva mentioned that ‘pain’ is the most common complaint by endometriotic patients. In order to keep the patient pain-free, various methods of medication can be done. Decreasing the hormonal activity leads to temporary cessation of menstruation and this causes a temporary pause in the progress of the disease.
Endometriosis is operated surgically by laparoscopy. It is where a fibre-optic instrument is used to view the abdominal organs and permit small scale surgery.
It is important to treat endometriosis in time in order to prevent the disease from worsening.
According to Dr Silva, if a woman experiences unusual pain during menstruation, it is important to seek medical advice and meet a gynaecologist immediately.
KEEPING TRACK OF THE MENSTRUATION CYCLE
Dr Silva explained that a woman’s monthly cycle that occurs from the first day of the period to the day before the next period is known as the menstrual cycle. It is the shedding of the inner lining of the uterus accompanied by bleeding. The average length of the menstrual cycle is 25 days and most women have the period that lasts for 4 to 7 days.
To prevent endometriosis and other related diseases, it is important to keep an accurate record of the menstruation cycle.
“When your period begins, ends, including the amount of flow and whether you pass blood clots during menstruation”
According to Dr Silva, it is abnormal if a woman bleeds in between her normal periods or after intercourse. Also, if the period is delayed more than 35 days, medical attention is immediately required.
Menstrual cramps, pains and heavy flow should usually be investigated.
Meeting a gynaecologist with the details of the menstruation cycle is important. The medical history will be discussed and vaginal examination will be conducted to diagnose the disorder. Sometimes full blood count tests will have to be done in order to check the iron levels in the body.