March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. This painful condition affects menstruating women, especially those from the ages of 15-40. Women with endometriosis may experience various symptoms and varying levels of pain severity . Unfortunately , due to lack of information, many South African women may be suffering without the adequate healthcare and treatment information. Here is a brief breakdown of what endometriosis is , its symptoms and the treatment options available.
What is it
Endometriosis occurs when uterine tissue begins growing outside of the uterus (usually on the Fallopian tubes, pelvic cavity and ovaries). As a result of this abnormal growth environment, when menstruation occurs (expelling of the uterine lining) the tissue has no place to exit the body as with a normal mensuration cycle . This causes the development of scar tissue ( which may lead to uterine adhesions) and inflammation. Women will experience extreme uterine/ pelvic/ ovarian pain as a result of the build up of this tissue and inflammation. In extreme cases cysts may form in the ovaries.
The most common symptom caused by endometriosis is extreme pain, especially during menstruation (although some women have noted ovarian pain outside of their menstrual cycle). Pain may radiate from the abdomen to the lower back.
Other symptoms include:
Bleeding: excessive bleeding during and in between your menstrual cycles
Painful bowel movements
Pain after intercourse
Irregular menstrual cycles
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, an early diagnosis may assist to alleviate the pain and other symptoms.
Treatment options include:
Surgery to remove scar tissue
Alternative medicine (after a medical diagnosis): magnesium, licorice root, ashwagandha, ginger, turmeric
Whatever your treatment option , it is advisable to first consult a medical doctor before making any decisions that could alter your health and well-being.
Due to the range of symptoms associated with endometriosis, it is difficult to diagnose this condition, especially for women who display no symptoms . It is encouraged that women should have regular check-ups and to consult a registered gynecologist/ medical practitioner for treatment and information.
Eisenberg, E. 2019. Endometriosis. [Online]. [6 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/endometriosis
Mayoclinic. 2019. Endometriosis. [Online]. [6 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656
Riggins, N. 2019. Endometriosis. [Online]. [6 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/endometriosis
Johnhopkinsmedicine. 2017. Endometriosis. [Online]. [6 March 2020]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/endometriosis