Endometriosis is a disorder that refers to a condition that affects the endometrium where the innermost layer of tissue that covers the inner side of the uterus is found on other sites of the body besides the uterus. The tissues are often found on sites such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and tissues around surrounding the uterus and ovaries. In rare cases, it can also be found in further parts of the body.
While the cause of endometriosis is not clear, some of the risk factors of endometriosis include having family history (increased by 7 to 10 times), increased exposure to menstruation (such as starting menarche early, having a short menstrual cycle, or having menstruation that lasts seven days or more), having conditions that interfere with your normal menstrual flow (such as fibroids, polyps, structural abnormalities in the uterus, etcetera), immune system disorders, and a history of abdominal surgery. Since the affected sites bleed according to the menstrual cycle, it can cause scarring and inflammation in the surrounding areas.
The diagnosis of endometriosis is usually achieved based on symptoms, medical imaging, and biopsy. While there is no cure, management of endometriosis includes pain medication, hormonal treatments, and surgery. It is estimated that approximately 10.8 million women were affected worldwide as of 2015.
Symptom #1: Dysmenorrhea
Dysmenorrhea is a medical term that refers to pain during menstruation or menstrual cramps. It usually starts around the time when menstruation begins and usually lasts no longer than three days. The pain is located in the lower abdomen and may also include back pain, nausea, and diarrhea. In younger women, pain during menstruation can occur without an underlying issue.
However, in older women, dysmenorrhea usually is associated with issues such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, and uterine fibroids. It is more commonly seen among women who experienced menarche before the age of 12 and have heavy or irregular menses. Management includes pain medication, exercise, vitamin B, and magnesium supplements.