What is Endometriosis?

What is Endometriosis?

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition that is often painful. It is a common chronic disease, but what does it mean to have it, and why does it happen?

To understand endometriosis, let’s first talk about the endometrium. Endometrial tissue builds up on the lining of the uterus (called the endometrium) during the menstrual cycle and is ultimately shed during your period. The “clumps” you may see during your period are typically made of this tissue. When someone has endometriosis, an endometrium-like tissue forms outside of the uterus, typically around the reproductive organs or in the pelvic or abdominal area.

During menstruation, endometrium in the uterus sheds and is released. However, when the endometrium-like tissue grows outside of the uterus, it is not able to be released during menstruation. Because of this, endometriosis can be very painful.

Some common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Painful periods, especially excessive cramping
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain with urination and bowel movements, especially during menstruation
  • Heavy periods or bleeding between periods
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or bloating
  • Fatigue

Because endometriosis can cause heavy periods, people who suffer from it may prefer menstrual cups or discs over tampons, since they offer a higher capacity than tampons and can contribute to significant cost savings by reducing the monthly expense of disposable products. Pairing a cup or a disc with period panties or leak proof underwear is a great way to ensure you’re protected from leaks due to heavy bleeding.

So, what causes endometriosis?

The truth is, doctors aren’t entirely sure. However, there are a few ideas. One theory is that endometrial tissue is transported through the blood or lymph systems, spreading throughout the body. Doctors also theorize that endometrial cells can attach to other parts of the body as a result of a C-section or hysterectomy. It is also possible that a process of reverse menstruation can lead to endometriosis. This occurs when menses travels upward through the fallopian tubes, bringing endometrium with it. Finally, there is evidence that endometriosis may be genetic, as it can impact some families more than others.

It’s estimated that endometriosis affects roughly 190 million people globally or 10% of people who menstruate. Pain levels can vary significantly from person to person. Some people with endometriosis may not even know they have it, and others can experience excruciating pain that impairs their ability to function. Aside from being uncomfortable, endometriosis can lead to further complications such as infertility. If you have painful periods, or if you are concerned you may have endometriosis, reach out to your doctor. Periods don’t have to be painful.



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