Women’s Health: What is Endometriosis?

April 26, 2019

 

Endometriosis is a detrimental and painful disorder affecting women’s reproductive organ, especially common among women in their 30s and 40s, making it harder to get pregnant. This condition is considered as common as asthma and diabetes affecting over 176 million women worldwide and more than 730,000 Australian women.

 

What is endometriosis?

Approximately every month, a woman’s reproductive organ undergoes menstruation, the process of receiving a fertilised egg from the ovary. In this process, the walls of the uterus (endometrium) thicken and, at the end of the menstruation cycle, is broken down and shed.

Endometriosis is a condition where endometrium lining begins to grow outside the uterus and also breaks down at the end of the menstruation cycle, causing pain and/or infertility.

 

What are its causes?

Although the answer to this question remains unclear and necessitates further research, a number of possible causes have been identified. Possible factors may include:

  • Genes inherited from parents;
  • Retrogade/backward menstruation;
  • Immune system disorders;
  • Environmental exposure to chemicals, toxins and/or viruses; and
  • Surgeries, such as C-section, that require the opening of the uterus.

 

Symptoms of endometriosis

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) which may include pain and cramping in the pelvis, lower back and abdominal area;
  • Pain during and/or after intercourse;
  • Pain with bowel movement or urination;
  • Excessive bleeding during menstrual periods and/or between periods;
  • Infertility;
  • Fatigue;
  • Diarrhoea;
  • Constipation or bloating; and
  • Nausea.

 

Diagnosis of endometriosis

Symptoms of endometriosis generally vary between individuals and can therefore be a little challenging to identify. Tests for identifying the condition include:

  • Pelvic exam
    This involves a trained physician to manually checks areas for abnormalities such as cysts and scars in the pelvis area.
  • Ultrasound
    High-frequency sound waves can be used to develop images inside the female reproductive organ. This method functions effectively in identifying cysts caused by the disorder.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
    This involves the usage of magnetic field used to create detailed images of the tissue within the female reproductive organ, which will be helpful in case of surgery.
  • Laprascopy
    This involves the usage of a small viewing instrument to verify the endometrial tissue with the aim to find out about the location and magnitude of endometrial cell growth, if any.

 

Treatment of endometriosis

Multiple treatment options exist for endometriosis and this is to be chosen with the consultation with a physician.

  • Pain medication
    Pain relief medication such Ibuprofen could be used to relieve menstrual pain and/or cramps.
  • Hormone therapy
    Hormonal medication can be a solution to lower tissue growth outside the uterus and pain caused by endometriosis.
  • Conservative surgery
    A surgery to remove excessive cell growth, while preserving the uterus and ovaries. This would be ideal for women trying to become pregnant. (Endometriosis and pain may return)

 

Our friendly medical staff will happily discuss with you further on endometriosis and will be happy to help and assist you the management of this condition. You can consult our our GPs: Dr. Julie O’Connor, and Dr. Kathy O’Sullivan, who can provide you with further information.

Call Ubuntu Medical on (07) 3857 3777 or email us at [email protected]