Endometriosis occurs when uterine tissue grows outside the uterus. It commonly spreads to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissues that line the pelvis. Outside the uterus, this tissue behaves as it would in the uterus: It thickens, breaks down, and bleeds on a 28-day cycle. Unlike the tissue in the uterus, this tissue has no way to exit and remains trapped inside the body.
Over time, this may lead to ovarian cysts, inflamed and irritated tissue, scarring, and adhesions. Any one of these can cause severe pain, especially during menstruation. When left untreated, endometriosis can also cause fertility issues.
When you have endometriosis, you typically have pelvic pain during your period. That goes beyond normal period pain and often gets worse over time. Along with pelvic pain and cramping, you may also experience lower-back pain. With endometriosis, pain can also occur during sex and while urinating or having a bowel movement.
No one exactly knows why endometriosis happens, but there are a few theories. It may occur because of retrograde menstruation, which is when menstrual blood doesn’t leave the body but instead travels up the fallopian tubes into the pelvis.
There’s also an induction therapy that states hormones or immune factors may cause cells on the inner abdomen to turn into endometrial cells. These cells then act like endometrial cells in the uterus and grow and shed.
Another cause may involve an immune system disorder that disables the body’s ability to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue outside the uterus. This tissue continues to grow, causing endometriosis.
The team at Logan OB/GYN treats endometriosis in a variety of ways. Depending on the severity, Dr. Ahlstrom and Marybeth may recommend treating endometriosis pain with over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen. They may also recommend using hormone supplements to slow tissue growth. This can be done through:
If your condition is extreme and doesn’t improve with medication therapy, Dr. Ahlstrom may recommend surgery. Through either laparoscopic or traditional abdominal surgery, Dr. Ahlstrom removes endometrial tissue outside the uterus. This can increase fertility and reduce symptoms, although it may not be a permanent solution as the tissue can return.
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