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Worldwide, as many as 178 million women suffer from endometriosis. The disease causes pelvic pain and irregular bleeding, and is a common cause of infertility. Discover what the symptoms of endometriosis are, how it is diagnosed and how it can be managed.

At SteadyHealth, we believe that every woman of reproductive age should be familiar with the symptoms of common female diseases.

Endometriosis is a female reproductive disease that affects many women — 8.5 million women in North America, and approximately 178 million women worldwide.

While endometriosis is relatively prevalent, few women who were not diagnosed with the disease are familiar with it and its symptoms. Since it is Endometriosis Awareness Week, this is the perfect importunity to remedy that! We'll look what endometriosis is, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. 

What Is Endometriosis? What Symptoms Can You Expect?

What happens in a woman who has endometriosis? Endometrial tissues, which would typically line only the uterus and be shed each month during menstruation, affect surrounding organs as well. The fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, intestines and other nearby organs can all be overtaken by endometrial tissues. Because the endometrial lining growing in other organs cannot be expelled during menstruation, cysts, adhesions and invasive nodules can quickly result.

The cause of endometriosis is still a bit of a mystery within the medical community. There are some theories, however. Research has shown that endometriosis has a strong genetic component. Immune system response, hormones, environmental triggers and stem cells may all play a role too. 

Endometriosis can occur in four different stages. These stages are diagnosed on the basis of the depth, location, and amount of endometrial “impants”, as they are known. Healthcare providers will examine whether a woman with endometriosis has blocked fallopian tubes, and what the extent of adhesions or scarring is. The stages of endometriosis are as follows:

  • Stage I — minimal endometriosis

  • Stage II — mild endometriosis

  • Stage III — moderate endometriosis

  • Stage IV — severe endometriosis

You may think that the symptoms of endometriosis get worse with its severity, but although that thought would appear to be the result of common sense this is rarely the case. In fact, symptoms may be worse in earlier stages and then disappear as more damage occurs within the affected organs. This is one reason to always pay close attention to symptoms that occur within the pelvic area.

It is important to note that many women who suffer from endometriosis do not have any symptoms. Sometimes, the first symptom of endometriosis is the inability to get pregnant. Where symptoms do exist, they can include:

  • Pain. Pelvic pain or discomfort is a common and characteristic symptom of endometriosis. Pain can also occur during menstruation, sexual intercourse, or bowel movements. Some women experience rectal pain, and others notice a lower back pain — especially in the days before their period is due.

  • Irregular bleeding. Bleeding in between menstrual periods can indicate endometriosis, as can unusually heavy periods. Vaginal bleeding after intercourse and blood in a bowel movement are also associated with the disease.

  • Nausea, vomiting and fatigue are symptoms of endometriosis.

  • Infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage are all among the most unwelcome symptoms of endometriosis. These come as the result of damage within the reproductive system.

Pelvic pain, irregular bleeding and pain after sexual intercourse should always be reasons for a woman to seek medical assistance. Regular unexplained nausea and vomiting, as well as constant fatigue, also often indicate gynecological problems. These symptoms are not enough to come to the conclusion that a woman has endometriosis, as many other reproductive conditions can cause the same symptoms. That would take us to the next section — in which we look at how endometriosis is diagnosed.

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