Endometriosis is a diagnosis that many women receive every single year. Endometriosis is when endometrial tissue moves outside of the uterus into locations such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, intestines, and lining of the pelvis. In extremely rare instances it may even migrate to surgical scars such as those from a cesarean scar, into the vaginal wall, and even the brain tissue.
The exact prevalence of Endometriosis isn’t exactly determined yet because many women who have the disease aren’t aware of it due to not showing symptoms or not seeking treatment if they do have symptoms for a variety of reasons including being unaware of the disease, lack of funds for medical care, or even fear of the unknown.
Many experts currently predict that between 10% to 15% of women in reproductive age will eventually develop Endometriosis during their lifetime. That means that 1 in every 20 people have or will have Endometriosis during their lifetime.
It is also estimated that between 25% to 30% of women experiencing fertility issues have Endometriosis as well. Genetics play a large part in development as well, as it’s been proven that a woman is seven times more likely to develop it if their mother or sister has it.
The diagnosis of Endometriosis may often take years and many tests. It isn’t uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose Endometriosis as irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, or cystitis. If Endometriosis isn’t diagnosed and treatment begun, infertility may occur.
In approximately 25% to 35% of Endometriosis cases where the severity is rated moderate to severe, infertility occurs due to damage of the ovaries and fallopian tubes. When this is allowed to take its course without treatment, the possibility of infertility is greatly increased.
A few women may experience Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, also known as ITP Endometriosis. This is a condition that involves having a low platelet count without a known reason.
Treatment options for Endometriosis can vary significantly depending on how severe of a case you may have. Doctors prefer to avoid surgery if at all possible.
Estrogen has been proven to stimulate the growth of Endometriosis so the goal of treatment is to suppress the hormones. Another option many doctors use is to prescribe birth control pills. These usually reduce menstrual bleeding by thinning out the endometrial lining and cause a lighter and shorter period.
If a more serious approach is to be taken, a drug by the name of Danazol may be used. This suppresses estrogen levels in the body and stimulates the amount of testosterone. Women stop ovulation and menstruating when this method of treatment is used. The lining of the uterus shrinks and new tissue is prevented from growing. No medicine is without side effects though and some of the most known ones include acne, hot flashes, increased hair growth, and fluid retention.
For this treatment to be effective it must be continued for a period of 6 months to one year. Symptoms dwindle once therapy has stopped. It is reserved for patients who haven’t responded to prior treatments including laser laparoscopy.
Once a woman begins receiving treatment for Endometriosis, it doesn’t mean she is in the clear. Statics on Endometriosis show that about 5% to 20% of patients who have symptoms will continue to show then in a five year period.
That is why it is important to follow up with your doctor once you are given treatment. The chances of re-occurrence after treatment that doesn’t involve surgery is higher than if you’d have opted for surgery however there are many things you can do to ensure that your symptoms are kept at bay.
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