Endometriosis is a little-known but common disease that afflicts nearly 200 million people globally, perhaps 1 in 10 women. It is a chronic inflammatory disease in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
Through education and increased public awareness, there will be an increase in the funding of medical research for diagnosing, treating and curing this disease.
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All about Endometriosis
FACTS: Endometriosis is a little-known but common disease that afflicts nearly 200 million people globally, perhaps 1 in 10 women. Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus. This endometrial-like tissue forms lesions that cause inflammation and scarring. These lesions can be tiny or large cysts known as endometriomas. The resulting symptoms include pain, constipation, organ dysfunction and, in some cases, infertility. Pain can be in the pelvis, back or legs and occur during urination or sex. A compromised quality of life is common. Many women struggle in silence, perhaps not even knowing they have it. The actresses Marilyn Monroe, Susan Sarandon and Whoopi Goldberg are some of the famous sufferers of endometriosis.
In adolescents and adults, endometriosis is often found in the pelvic and abdominal areas on the ovaries, bowel, bladder and soft tissues, but the lungs and other regions can also be affected. The origin of name is from Greek: “endos” meaning inside, “metra” meaning womb and “osis” for disease. This name implies that the endometrium, the inside lining of the uterus, causes an affliction. The cause remains uncertain, but theories include hormonal, genetic and environmental origins.
One theory is retrograde menstruation in which endometrial cells flow back through the fallopian tubes and enter the pelvic cavity. Another theory is that an immune system problem makes the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus. Recent studies have even linked endometriosis to sunbathing and the use of tanning beds.
One problem in treating endometriosis is the difficulty that doctors face in diagnosing it. Ultrasound and MRI imaging, for example, may not find it. A diagnosis can be made through minimally invasive surgery. There are no definitive cures for endometriosis, but there are effective treatments to ease symptoms. These include surgical removal of the lesions combined with exercise, physical therapy, nutrition, pain management and medications. Women who struggle with endometriosis do remain hopeful. Through education and increased public awareness, there will be an increase in the funding of medical research for diagnosing, treating and curing this disease.