Endometriosis - Life Goes On!

What do Lena Dunham, Katrina Kaif, Padma Lakshmi, Hillary Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, and roughly 25 million women in India have in common?

They all have been diagnosed with endometriosis.

But what is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an overgrowth of cells from a woman’s uterus. The uterus is lined with a tissue known as endometrium that thickens during menstrual cycles. In fact, shedding of this layer contributes towards the bleeding we experience during periods. When the endometrium cells grow elsewhere, say on ovaries or fallopian tubes, the condition is known as endometriosis.

What causes endometriosis?

The cause of endometriosis is still unknown and most doctors chalk it up to genetic and environmental factors.

Endometriosis is really difficult to diagnosis - why?

Symptoms can be very broad, so are often confused for regular menstrual pains. Unfortunately, sometimes women are not taken seriously for menstruation-like symptoms so can go years without getting a thorough examination.

What do symptoms of endometriosis look like?

The most commonly reported symptom is pelvic pain during a menstrual cycle. Unlike menstrual cramps, pain due to endometriosis is severe, often debilitating women for the first few days of her cycle. Sometimes, the pain radiates towards the back and abdomen, causing extreme discomfort for several days at a stretch.

Other symptoms include:

  • Heavy bleeding: some women have to change their sanitary pads as often as every half hour, or may wake up in the morning in a pool of blood

  • Bleeding or spotting between periods

  • Pain during urination and bowel movement

  • Nausea

  • Bloating

  • Dizziness

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Problems conceiving

The symptoms of endometriosis are so generic that many women do not realise that they are in trouble until it becomes unbearably painful. If you feel like you have any of the above symptoms, please consult your doctor.

How will my doctor diagnose me?

Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam and order investigative tests such as an ultrasound and laparoscopy to confirm the diagnosis.

Can endometriosis be treated?

Treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of the disease, but can consist of any of the following prescribed by your physician:

  • Painkillers

  • Oral contraceptives

  • Hormonal therapies to help regularise your periods and suppress endometrial growth

  • Surgery (depending on the severity)

Endometriosis is a very common problem and there are ways to manage the symptoms, so it is important to consult a doctor right away if you sense you may have it. Don’t let endometriosis own you - take control of your sexual health and see a doctor today!

Author: Garima Capoor; Doctor (MBBS) & Medical Content Writer; South West Delhi, Delhi, India