Endometriosis is a disease of the female reproductive organ, in which the normal tissues of the endometrium of the uterus, develops outside the uterus. The endometrium-like tissues found outside the uterus undergoes the same process as the tissues in the endometrium. They become thick, break down, shed and bleed, without any outlet for the blood and shed materials to leave the body. This leads to the accumulation of blood in this parts and could lead to irritation and adhesion. This is also a huge source of pain in affected patients. However, the extent of this pain is proportional to the extent of the disease. This disease mostly affects organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissues that line the pelvis. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of this disease include pain in the pelvis and infertility. Patients might also experience pain during sexual intercourse. According to statistics, about half of those affected with this disease might become infertile. Other less common symptoms include urinary and bowel symptoms. In addition, about one-quarter of endometriosis patients do not present with any symptom. The cause of this disease isn’t exactly clear yet, however, some risk factors have been identified to contribute to the development of the disease. Some of these factors include family history, alcohol consumption, not giving birth and so on. Physicians diagnose this disease based on the symptoms presented by the patient and also confirm this by doing medical imaging tests. Biopsy is the gold standard for confirming the disease. Weight loss, and avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol help to prevent the development of this disease. Medications such as combined oral contraceptives also help in reducing the risk of developing this disease. However, there is no cure for the disease, although the symptoms can be improved. Endometriosis was recently identified as a stem cell disease. It has been observed that the endometrial cells that grow outside of the endometrium, develop from ectopic endometrial stem cell progenitors. Research is ongoing to fully understand how this occurs, and the possible ways to fully explore into the potentials of stem cell therapy of endometriosis.
What Are the Signs And Symptoms Of Endometriosis?
The most common signs and symptoms of endometriosis is a pelvic pain. This is usually associated with the menstrual period. A lot of women also experience cramping during their cycle. They usually do complain that the pain is worse than normal. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of endometriosis;
- Pain during menstruation: This usually occurs before the menstrual cycle starts, and may extend into the period. Patients might experience pain in their lower back, and also in their abdomen.
- Pain during intercourse: People affected by endometriosis usually do experience pain when they’re having sexual intercourse. This pain could be during or after intercourse.
- Infertility: This disease is usually diagnosed, when women present to their doctor, because of infertility.
- Bleeding: Patients may have a lot of bleeding during and also in between their menstrual period.
- Pain during urination and movement in the abdomen: Patients might experience discomfort, in their abdomen and when urinating, especially during their menstrual period.
- Menorrhagia: Some women do experience a heavy loss of blood when they’re menstruating. This might not happen every time they menstruate, but it could be quite frequent. In addition to this, some women do experience bleeding in between their menstrual periods.
- Other symptoms of endometriosis: There are other symptoms of this disease that affects other systems of the body. Some of these symptoms are tiredness, constipation. In addition, some cancer diseases have been linked to endometriosis. Some of them are ovarian and endometrial cancer.
When Is It Important To Go See A Doctor?
Endometriosis is a difficult disease to manage. It could make life unbearable, especially when it’s not well managed. It’s important to go see your physician if you notice some abnormal symptoms, like above, during your menstrual period.
What Are The Causes Of Endometriosis?
- Retrograde menstruation: This is a type of menstruation in which the blood that contains endometrial cells flows back into the fallopian tube, into the pelvic cavity, then out of the body. Some of the cells might adhere to the walls of the pelvic cavity, where they’d grow and bleeding during every menstrual period. This would cause a lot of discomfort for the patient.
- Embryonic cell transformation: Hormones can lead to the transformation of embryonic cells into endometrial cells, especially during puberty.
- Immune disorder: This is a condition in which the immune system fails to recognize the body endometrial tissues, and tries to destroy the ones outside the uterus. This causes a lot of pain for the patient.
What Are the Risk Factors For Endometriosis?
There are some factors that increase the risk and contributes to the development of endometriosis. Genetics and environmental factors have been implicated as factors that could increase the chances of having this disease.
- Genetics: People who have relatives that have suffered from the disease, are prone to having this disease. The chances of having this disease are higher in women who have a direct sibling that has the disease. According to statistics, they are six times more likely to have endometriosis. This disease has been attributed to a change in some genomes
- Environmental factors: There are some factors that also influence the development of endometriosis, apart from genetics. Some of the factors that influence the development of the disease are
- When the female has not given birth yet
- Exposure to estrogen for a long time. This occurs when a woman has a late menopause or an early menarche.
- Blockage of the menstrual flow: This could be as a result of adhesions.
Stem Cell Therapy of Endometriosis
Endometriosis was recently identified as a stem cell disease. It has been observed that the endometrial cells that grow outside of the endometrium, develop from ectopic endometrial stem cell progenitors. Research is ongoing to fully understand how this occurs, and the possible ways to fully explore into the potentials of stem cell therapy of endometriosis.
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