Unlike primary dysmenorrhea where the source of the pain is unknown, Endometriosis is considered as secondary dysmenorrhea since it can be identified using various imaging procedures.
What is it?
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells that are normally found inside the uterus (endometrial cells) are found growing outside of the uterus. That is, the lining of the inside of the uterus is found outside of it.
Endometriosis is common, yet poorly understood disease that can strike women of any socioeconomic class, age or race. It is typically diagnosed during the reproductive years, but has been diagnosed in girls as young as 8 and has been found to continue past menopause; it has been estimated that endometriosis occurs in roughly 4–10% of women.
The Endometrium and Endometrial Cells:
The lining of the uterus consists of a type of tissue called endometrium - composed of endometrial cells - that thicken and multiply in number each month to prepare for a potential pregnancy. It is here where a fertilized egg cell implants and grows, however, if not fertilized, the endometrium breaks down and exits the body during the menstrual period which happens about once a month.
Endometrial cells that grow outside of the uterus - usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer wall of the uterus, intestines and even in the lungs - are called implants. Moreover, these implants follow the same pattern as the endometrium lining the uterus of getting thicker, breaking down, and bleeding. This poses a problem since these growths can lead to the formation of scar tissue, cysts as well as significant pain.
How do I know if I have it?
Most women who have endometriosis, in fact, do not have any symptoms. Of those who do experience symptoms, the common symptoms are pain (usually pelvic) and infertility. Pelvic pain usually occurs during or just before menstruation and lessens after menstruation. Some women experience painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) or cramping during intercourse, and or/pain during bowel movements and/or urination. Even pelvic examination by a doctor can be painful. The pain intensity can change from month to month, and vary greatly among women. Some women experience progressive worsening of symptoms, while others can have resolution of pain without treatment.
Pelvic pain in women with endometriosis depends partly on where the implants of endometriosis are located.
- Deeper implants and implants in areas with many pain-sensing nerves may be more likely to produce pain.
- Pain can also result when endometriosis implants form scars. There is no relationship between severity of pain and how widespread the endometriosis is (the "stage" of endometriosis).
Other symptoms that can be related to endometriosis include:
- lower abdominal pain,
- diarrhea and/or constipation, before the menstruation
- low back pain,
- chronic fatigue
- irregular or heavy menstrual bleeding, or
- blood in the urine.
Rare symptoms of endometriosis include chest pain or coughing blood due to endometriosis in the lungs and headache and/or seizures due to endometriosis in the brain
There is no cure for endometriosis, but the symptoms can be treated in a variety of ways, including pain medication, hormonal treatments, and surgery.
ActiLady does not treat endometriosis; however, it might treat the associated pain.
If you feel you might have any of the symptoms specified above we advise you to consult your OBG.