What is endometriosis? Answering the most googled health question.
The most googled question in women’s health for 2018 was “What is endometriosis?”.
Whether they had an inkling that their period symptoms weren’t normal, or had heard the phrase in the news, it’s a question worthy of an informed answer.
There has been a signifiant push to raise awareness for the debilitating condition throughout 2018. Celebrities such as Lena Dunham, Sophie Monk and Susan Sarandon are just a few of the celebrities who have openly shared their experiences with the condition.
Since there is an average of a seven to 10 year delay in diagnosis, it’s imperative that the condition be discussed.
With over 700,000 women in Australia living with endometriosis it’s time we understand what exactly it is.
Dr. Stankiewicz is Medical Director of City Fertility Centre Adelaide and holds a Certificate in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI), which is the highest qualification available in Australia for a fertility specialist.
“Endometriosis is a condition that affects some women in their reproductive years. It occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus is found outside the uterus. The areas where it is commonly found are the surface of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis.”
But how does that cause pain?
Dr Stankiwicz explains that the tissues grow and cause inflammation, scarring and adhesions.
“It is believed that these tissues grow and cause inflammation, scarring and sometimes adhesions. Similar to the lining of the uterus, these implants respond to female hormones such as estrogen. It is not fully understood why it can cause so much pain in some women; however, it is thought that sometimes the implants bleed and the blood cannot escape from the body during the period, so it bleeds directly onto the surface of the surrounding organs and tissues.”
So what causes the insufferable condition?
Dr Stankiwicz says that a process called “retrograde menstruation”, a backward flow of menstrual bleeding through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis, might be responsible for endometriosis.
“There are many theories that try to explain the origin of Endometriosis. One of them explains it via a process called ‘retrograde menstruation’’. This backward flow of menstrual bleeding through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis might cause the endometrial cells to implant on abdominal organs,” he wrote.
He added that more research suggests altered immunity, coelomic metaplasia and metastatic spread could result in an endometriosis diagnosis.
“Newer research is also proposing stem cell and genetic origins of the disease. A 2013 study from the National Institute of Health also supports this. For instance, women who have a first-degree relative affected by the disease have a seven times higher risk of developing Endometriosis than women who do not have a family history of the disease,” he wrote.
According to dietician Marika Day, there is link between diet and endometriosis relief.
“The role of nutrition in endometriosis is a relatively new concept, but when we consider that the way we eat has a broad influence on all functions of the human body it is easy to see how nutrition may help alleviate symptoms in those who suffer endometriosis.”
She explained that the condition often coincides with bowel irregularity in the form of constipation or diarrhoea. By managing gut dysfunction, symptoms and quality of life can be improved.
“Because many women with endometriosis also fit the criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, improvements in symptoms often occur with the implementation of a low FODMAP diet, or simply manipulating their fibre intake, whether that be increasing fibre, decreasing fibre, or modifying the types of fibre in the diet,” she explained.
“Studies have shown differences in the gut microbiome (bacteria found in the large intestine) in those with endometriosis compared to those without which raises questions as to the role our gut may play in the development of endometriosis,” she added.
Here are the most common symptoms of Endometriosis – take them seriously.
- Period pain before and during a period
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Abdominal, back and/or pelvic pain outside of menstruation
- Painful bowel movements or urination
- Abdominal pain at the time of ovulation
- Heavy or irregular bleeding with or without clots
- Premenstrual spotting
- Extreme tiredness
- Difficulty falling pregnant
If you’re suffering from Endometriosis or experiencing symptoms, always seek medical advice from your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
Article by Alexandra Moore from Mamamia.com.au