In today’s lesson about scary things that could be going on down there, allow me to introduce you to endometriosis. You might have heard the term and assumed that it vaguely had something to do with your vagina, but were you clueless beyond that? You’re definitely not alone.
I wasn’t really sure what the deal was with it until I started hearing Lena Dunham talk about it. You might have also recently have heard how Julianne Hough underwent her second surgery for endometriosis. Having “down there” and “surgery” go together are things we never want to hear, but it’s important to be aware of different conditions that could affect you. That way, you can figure out what’s going on with your body and take charge by getting treatment.
Listen up. Here are nine important things to know about endometriosis.
You Might Think That It's Period PainEndometriosis is a chronic disorder where tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, aka the endometrium, grows outside the uterus in areas like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even tissue lining the pelvis. The issue is that it still behaves like normal uterus tissue so it sheds and bleeds. The problem is that it doesn't have anywhere to go so people can suffer from some pretty serious stomach pains. Plus, they can experience pain in the surrounding parts of the body. Image source: Getty
It's More Common Than We RealizeWe might not have heard of its fancy name, but endometriosis isn't some totally obscure condition. It's estimated that it affects approximately 10 percent of women. Image source: Getty
They're Not Sure What Causes ItSorry, people, but science has yet to figure out what the cause of endometriosis is. Of course there are several theories. Your Period suggests that menstrual blood containing endometrial cells travels backwards, up through the fallopian tubes, and into the abdomen, causing the symptoms. Crazy to think, eh? Another theory is that the hormones react with the cells in the abdomen, producing the tissues. Image source: Getty
It Can Impact MenstruationOne of the other symptoms of endometriosis is infertility. This makes it tricky because it's usually diagnosed with someone who is having fertility issues and is seeking treatment for that. Image source: Getty
The Symptoms Can Be Very PainfulI've talked about the painful cramping, but that can just be the start of things. Endometriosis can cause bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea, with symptoms being worse during periods. It can make peeing and pooping very painful. As you might have guessed, it can also make sex difficult and/or very painful. Image source: Getty
It Can Cause CystsThe delightful side effects just keep on coming. I talked about how the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grow outside the uterus but continues to shed. Since they're not exiting your vagina, the surrounding tissue can become irritated, developing scar tissue. When the rogue tissue is in the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form, according to Mayo Clinic. Image source: Getty
It Can Be Difficult To DiagnoseThe issue is that some people might not realize that they have it so they don't get diagnosed. Sometimes, they end up being misdiagnosed. On occasion, it is confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because of the cramping symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is sometimes thought to be inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. Image source: Getty
There Are Certain Risk Factors That Can Make Endometriosis More LikelySorry to tell you this, but if you started your period at early age, or you have a shorter cycle, your chances of endometriosis are likelier. Other risk factors include never having given birth, having a lower body mass index (BMI), having uterine abnormalities, or having relatives with endometriosis. Alcohol consumption is also thought to play a role. Image source: Getty
There Are TreatmentsThe bad news is that there is no *cure* per say. The good news is that you can manage symptoms through a variety of things. Lifestyle changes, managing stress, and relaxing can help. Some people also find that avoiding certain foods can help alleviate their symptoms while others have found benefits to certain exercises like yoga or Pilates. There are medications people can try like progesterone-based birth control pills or IUDs. In extreme cases, surgery is an option. There are various surgeries depending on your lifestyle and your situation so your doctor will suggest the best options. Image source: Getty
What did you know about endometriosis? Let us know in the comments!
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