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Endometriosis

What is it?

  • Endometriosis (end-o-mee-tree-o-sis) is when the lining of the uterus (womb) grows in places outside the uterus. The lining of your uterus is normally shed when you have a period. When your uterus bleeds, this extra lining outside your uterus also bleeds. New bits of lining float around and find new places to grow. Endometriosis may be found in your ovaries, tubes, vagina, or belly (abdomen). It may grow between these organs and cause them to stick together. The extra lining gets red, swollen, and may cause pain.
  • It is most common in women ages 20 to 40. There is nothing you can do to keep from getting endometriosis. Some women with this problem may have a hard time getting pregnant. After menopause (men-o-paws), your ovaries stop making a hormone called estrogen (es-tro-gin). Without estrogen, you cannot have periods and the disease goes away. Sometimes pregnancy helps lessen the problems caused by endometriosis.

Causes:

It is not known why women get this disease. Women who have relatives with endometriosis may be more likely to have this problem.

Signs and Symptoms:

The most common signs may be pain before and during periods. This pain may be worse than normal monthly period cramps. Another sign may be pain during or after sex. You may have heavy bleeding at times other than your period. Other signs may be lower back pain or painful BMs with periods. You may have tiredness. Or you may have a problem getting pregnant. These signs may show up quickly or occur over many years. Some women have no signs of endometriosis.

Wellness Recommendations:

Regular exercise may decrease the risk of getting endometriosis and also decrease endometriosis symptoms. Do not drink alcohol as it can raise estrogen levels and may be associated with an increased risk of infertility due to endometriosis. Avoid caffeine since it may also increase the infertility risk caused by endometriosis.

Medical Care:

Your caregiver will do a pelvic exam (an "internal") to check your female organs. He/she may want to check you between periods and again during your period. Your caregiver will be able to compare changes in the exams. You may be given medicine to help your body make less estrogen to slow or stop your periods. Some of the tissue growing outside your uterus may get smaller or go away. By taking the medicine, your disease may be kept from spreading. Other medicines may be given to help your pain.

A laparoscopy may be done. During this surgery, your caregiver can look at your organs to see if you have endometriosis. Surgery may be done to remove the endometriosis that is growing in the wrong places. Or you may need to have some or all of your female organs removed to get rid of your symptoms.

Dietary Measures:

  • Fiber in your diet decreases estrogen levels in premenopausal women. A high fiber diet may be helpful for women with endometriosis.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Herbs:

    Supplements:

      Complementary Therapies:

      • Acupuncture may help endometriosis.
      • Electromagnetic fields may help endometriosis pain.
      • Joining an endometriosis support group may be helpful to you.

      Other ways of treating your symptoms : Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

      Talk to your caregiver if:

      • You would like medicine to treat endometriosis.
      • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
      • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

      SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

      • You have bad abdominal (belly) or back pain that does not go away.
      • You have heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding.

      Care Agreement:

      You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

      References:

      1. Cramer DW, Wilson E, Stillman RJ et al: The relation of endometriosis to menstrual characteristics, smoking, and exercise. JAMA 1986; 255(14):1904-1908.

      2. Grodstein F, Goldman MB & Cramer DW: Infertility in women and moderate alcohol use. Am J Public Health 1994; 84(9):1429-1432.

      3. Grodstein F, Goldman MB, Ryan L et al: Relation of female infertility to consumption of caffeinated beverages. Am J Epidemiol 1993; 137(12):1353-1360.

      4. Jorgensen WA, Frome BM & Wallach C: Electrochemical therapy of pelvic pain: effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) on tissue trauma. Eur J Surg Suppl 1994; (574):83-86.

      5. Rose DP, Lubin M & Connolly JM: Effects of diet supplementation with wheat bran on serum estrogen levels in the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. Nutrition 1997; 13(6):535-539.

      6. Tsenov D: The effect of acupuncture in dysmenorrhea. Akush Ginekol (Sofiia) 1996; 35(3):24-25.


      Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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