Endometriosis: causes and treatment
Endometriosis is a chronic disorder that occurs when tissues, which form the inner lining of the uterus - known as the endometrium - are found outside the uterus. This abnormal growth of endometrial tissue can take place on any part of the pelvic and abdominal regions such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, vulva, bladder, etc. Rare occurrences of endometriosis can also happen in the lungs, on the arms, and thighs among others.
There is tremendous research underway with regard to the causes of endometriosis in women as the exact root of its occurrence has not been determined.
The most plausible explanations for the development of this disease are as follows:
1. Retrograde menstruation: the most likely cause of endometriosis, this happens when menstrual blood and tissue backs up into the fallopian tubes and pelvis instead or getting expelled from the body. These displaced endometrial tissues then stick to the pelvic walls and grow on other organs in the region.
2. Endometrial cell transport: endometrial cells and tissues are often transported through blood and lymph vessels to various parts of the body where they start to thrive.
3. Embryonic cell growth: embryonic cells that line the walls of the pelvic and abdominal cavities often turn into endometrial tissue, which causes endometriosis.
4. Surgical scars: endometrial cells often get surgically transplanted to scars in the abdomen and pelvis during surgical procedures such as c-sections or hysterectomies.
5. Immune system disorder: dysfunction of the immune system prohibits the elimination of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.
6. Foetal development: endometriosis can occur in a foetus that retains endometrial tissue, which develops into the disease later in life when triggered by pubertal hormones (hormones that trigger puberty).
7. Hormones: endometriosis is stimulated by the hormone oestrogen, which leads to the disease when it reaches abnormal levels.
Endometriosis is a curable condition. The common treatments include:
1. Pain medicines: over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs help relieve the agony of endometriosis and burning menstruation.
2. Hormone therapy: the administration of certain hormones such as birth-control pills and other hormonal contraceptives, as well as drugs that block stimulation of the ovaries are effective in suppressing the development of endometriosis.
3. Surgery: this resorts to only when all other methods of treatment have failed. The initial surgical approach is to remove the extra-uterine endometrial growth. However, some cases might require a hysterectomy with complete removal of the uterus and ovaries.