September 16 2021
A painful condition, endometriosis affects many women around the globe. It is a health condition in which the tissue that forms the inner lining of the uterus grows outside of it. The inner lining is known as the endometrium, which is why this condition is known as endometriosis. This tissue, during endometriosis, may grow on the ovaries, bowel, and pelvic tissues and is known as an endometrial plant. During menstruation, the hormonal changes cause inflammation and pain in the area of misplaced tissue, due to which it grows thicker and eventually breaks down. The tissue, over time, breaks down and has nowhere else to go, which makes it trapped in the pelvic region, which may cause irritation, scarring, fertility issues, severe pain during menstruation.
Symptoms of endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis vary from mild to severe ones. Different women experience symptoms of different intensity. However, the intensity of the symptoms does not indicate the stage of endometriosis.
Pain in the pelvic region is the most commonly experienced symptom of this condition; some other symptoms like heavy bleeding during menstruation, pain during intercourse, abdominal cramps before and during menstruation, infertility, pain in the lower back, and discomfort during bowel movements might also be experienced by affected women. It is also possible to have no symptoms at all, which is why a regular gynecological examination is important.
Stages of endometriosis
There are four stages of endometriosis, namely, minimal, mild, moderate, and severe. Many factors like the number, size, depth of endometrial implants, and location determine the stage.
- Stage I: minimal endometriosis- small lesions, wounds, and shallow endometrial implants are observed on the ovaries. This stage is also associated with inflammation in the pelvic region.
- Stage II: mild endometriosis- light lesions and endometrial implants are seen on the ovaries and pelvic region during this stage of endometriosis.
- Stage III: moderate endometriosis- deep implants on the ovary, along with lesions and lining of the pelvis can be observed.
- Stage IV: severe endometriosis- deep implants on the pelvic lining and the ovaries, along with lesions on fallopian tubes and bowels are seen.
Risk factors of endometriosis
- Genetics: People, who have a family history of endometriosis, are at a higher risk for this disorder. So, it is highly advised to go for a gynecological examination of this disorder, if you have a family member who has had this condition.
- History of pregnancy: pregnancy can ease the symptoms of endometriosis, but just temporarily. Women who have never gotten pregnant are at a higher risk of endometriosis. Although it can still affect women who have had children, women who don’t have a history of pregnancy are at a higher risk.
- Age: although endometriosis affects women of all ages, it is more common in women who are between 25 and 40 years of age. Symptoms of this disorder may even begin at puberty in some cases.
- History of menstruation: short menstrual cycles, early start of menstruation, long menstrual cycles, and other issues related to menstruation may put a woman at a higher risk for this disorder.
Complications of endometriosis
Infertility is the most serious complication of endometriosis. However, women who suffer from mild stages of this disorder might be able to conceive and get through pregnancy. Medications are also unable to improve this complication. Surgeries that remove the endometrial implant can make it easier to conceive. Other complications caused by endometriosis are chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and certain other psychological conditions.
Causes of endometriosis
The actual cause of endometriosis isn’t known to date, although some causes are considered. However, these aren’t proven scientifically. For example, one theory says that certain hormones make cells outside of the uterus, similar to the cells that line the endometrium. Some people also believe that endometriosis may occur if some small areas of the abdomen get converted into endometrial tissue, which may happen because the abdominal cells grow from embryonic cells that may change the shape and function like endometrial cells.
These displaced cells may end up on the walls of the pelvis or even on the pelvic organs (bladder, ovaries, and rectum) and may continue to grow thicker and bleed during menstruation as a response to hormones. The menstrual blood may even leak into the pelvic region through a scar caused by certain surgeries.
dietary changes for prevention of endometriosis
- Omega-3 fatty acids: omega-3 fatty acids are healthy and possess anti-inflammatory properties. These fats are found in fatty fish and some other animal and plant sources. Omega-3 fatty acids act like building blocks of pain and inflammation relieving molecules. Consuming a large ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet may be beneficial to women who suffer from endometriosis, as it is associated with pain and inflammation. This ratio might even inhibit the growth of endometrial cells (displaced), research studies show. Women, who consume more omega-3 fatty acids, are at a lower risk of endometriosis. People who can’t consume fish directly can even opt for dietary supplements like alvizia’s alenfish (fish oil supplement). It is a dietary supplement that comes in different variants- double and triple strengths. It helps fight inflammation, curing cramps during the menstrual cycle, enhancing brain functions, skin, and hair.
- Plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains come with the goodness of minerals, vitamins, and plenty of fiber, this is why adding these to your daily dietary intake is considered good. These foods possess some properties which are important for people with endometriosis, as a high fiber dietary intake results in low levels of estrogen. This is the reason why a diet in high fibers is considered very well for women with endometriosis.