Spreading Endo Awareness
Endometriosis, also known as “endo” amongst those who suffer from it, is a disease of the female reproductive system. March has been designated to raise awareness of this often-debilitating disease. Do you, or someone you know, suffer from its effects?
What is endo?
Endometriosis is a girls-only condition. It happens when the cells of the lining of the uterus, also known as the endometrium, grow on parts of the body that they are not supposed to. During your menstrual cycle, the endometrium swells under the influence of hormones, and if conception does not take place, it is shed once a month as a menstrual period. If the cells are outside of your uterus, they also shed, but there is nowhere for it to go. This results in unbelievable pain for the woman -- it can be so significant that it really interferes with her quality of life.
The main symptom of endo is a painful menstrual period. The pain is described by those who experience it as above and beyond “regular” cramps. Often, it can be difficult to use the restroom, and simple gas may send you to the floor in pain. Other symptoms are painful sexual intercourse, cramping or pain outside of your period, and pain in the lower abdomen during your period. It can interfere with your fertility, as well.
The severity of the symptoms doesn’t necessarily correlate to the severity of the disease -- some women with severe disease are symptomless, and others who have terrible symptoms only have small areas of endo.
Diagnosis and treatment
Endo may be suspected by your care provider, but it is generally be diagnosed via surgery. Pelvic exams and ultrasounds may also be used to assist with a diagnosis. A pelvic laparoscopy, a surgical procedure which is used for diagnosis, can also remove the patches of tissue and scar tissue. If you aren’t looking to conceive a baby any time soon, your care provider may prescribe birth control pills to create a pregnancy-like state to prevent ovulation and menstruation -- this may eliminate your monthly symptoms.
The only cure, however, is a total hysterectomy, with removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Women who suffer from endometriosis often suffer in silence. If you or someone you know have symptoms of endo, get checked out.