Oestrogen and endometriosis
Dr. Kamela Khalid
Mosque road, Bengaluru Feb 2, 2017
Endometriosis is an often painful condition where the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside into the uterine musculature and beyond. Endometriosis most commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. It occurs during the childbearing years and is usually not life-threatening but comes with a lot of pain and discomfort.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not certain. However, it is believed that the female hormone, estrogen is responsible for the problem. Women have a high level of estrogen during their childbearing years and it is from then till they attain menopause that women have endometriosis. Estrogen levels tend to drop once they get menopause and the symptoms of endometriosis usually go away by then.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your menstrual period but women with endometriosis experience pain that is far worse than usual. Some other symptoms include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Excessive bleeding, occasional heavy periods or bleeding between periods
- Fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea
Several factors will put a woman at a greater risk of developing endometriosis such as:
- Nulliparity- never been pregnant
- Getting periods at an early age
- Going through menopause at a late age
- Short menstrual cycles
- Having higher levels of estrogen in the body
- Low body mass index
- Uterine abnormalities
To diagnose endometriosis, your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms as various other conditions can also cause heavy periods and abdominal pain. A pelvic exam, a laparoscopy or an ultrasound will help determine the presence of endometriosis.
Endometriosis can be treated with either medications or surgery. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the doctor will choose one approach. Surgery is usually the last resort.
There is no permanent cure for endometriosis and even with treatment, there is always a chance that symptoms may come back. The choice of treatment will depend on whether you want to control the pain and ease menstrual cycles or get pregnant.
Some of the general treatment options involve – pain medications, birth control pills, hormone therapy, laparoscopy, and assisted reproductive technologies.
Not getting the appropriate treatment for endometriosis can lead to various other complications such as infertility or ovarian cancer. If you have painful periods, consult a doctor to seek the right diagnosis.