Are you a mother struggling with painful periods? It could be endometriosis. Don't let the big name scare you, it can be managed with some lifestyle changes. Read on to know more.
By Aarthi Arun
Endometriosis mostly occurs in women in the prime of their lives, and can adversely affect their quality of life. In India, 6–10 per cent of women suffer from this painful condition.
So, what happens in endometriosis? The endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus. When it grows out of the uterus — usually in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or in the tissues surrounding ovaries and uterus, the condition is called endometriosis. Due to the influence of female hormones, the tissue grows every month like the uterus lining. However, unlike the uterus lining, the tissue outside the uterus cannot bleed in the form of menstrual blood. So, it may sometimes forms a lump or a cyst. In an ultrasound, it may appear as a cyst that is filled with blood. This condition can cause pain in the lower abdomen. Often, it can go undetected for months or even years.
The classic symptom of endometriosis is heavy periods with severe pain in the lower abdomen. The pain usually starts before the periods and lasts till the bleeding stops. Endometriosis can distort the structure of the uterus, fallopian tube and ovaries, so it is not uncommon to see fertility issues as a symptom for the condition. It can cause infertility in about 20–40 per cent of individuals. Another common complaint with endometriosis is pain during sexual intercourse. In advanced cases, there can be irregularities in bowel movements and rectal pain as well.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known. There are various theories, and the most popular one is that the menstrual blood from the uterus back-flows into the abdominal cavity through the fallopian tubes resulting in endometriosis. Some women may have genes which predispose them to develop endometriosis. Environmental pollutants and chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers are also some of the culprits.
Endometriosis is a lifelong condition with no cure. But, worry not – you can manage the condition with lifestyle changes, a healthy diet and exercise.
With inputs from Dr Mukta Kapila, Director, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at a leading hospital in Gurugram.
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