Endometriosis: everything you need to know

Endometriosis is an illness that, as well as being painful, can make pregnancy difficult for certain women. Find out more about this health issue. Click To Tweet

The endometrium is the internal lining of the uterus. This is regenerated cyclically, during the menstrual cycleWhen endometrium is found outside the uterine cavity, what we have is a case of endometriosis that – as well as chronic pelvic pain – may cause changes in how certain organs function and lead to fertility being compromised.

Symptoms of endometriosis

Despite possibly being asymptomatic, the symptom most associated with endometriosis is pain. This involves a fairly incapacitating pain, and may affect the day-to-day life in various ways; although when mild, endometriosis may be asymptomatic.

That pain might become apparent during sexual intercourse and the menstrual cycle (dysmenorrhea), sometimes being relieved by taking anti-inflammatories or the pill. However, this pain is not always relieved.

The area affected by pain can also vary, with characteristic symptoms possibly including:

  • Intestinal pain, diarrhoea or constipation
  • Pain when urinating, with possible blood loss in urine
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Kidney function failure
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
  • Infertility, due to blocking of the tubes due to endometrial tissue
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)

Diagnosis: What test is used to detect endometriosis?

In general, clinical history and a physical examination (palpation of the abdomen and uterus) are the basis for diagnosing endometriosis. However, there are additional tests that can be significant for a more complete diagnosis, namely:

  • Ultrasound
  • Blood analysis
  • MRI scan
  • Cystoscopy
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium enema
  • Computed tomography
  • Laparoscopy
Endometriosis: everything you need to know

Causes of endometriosis

The causes of endometriosis are not entirely known. However, there are certain aspects that can be deemed risk factors for this illness, such as:

  • Retrograde menstruation through the tubes
  • Genetics
  • Family history of the illness
  • History of pelvic infections and/or abnormalities in the uterus
  • High levels of oestrogens
  • Contact with toxic substances

What are the treatments for endometriosis?

Treating endometriosis ranges from relieving the associated symptoms, to increasing the chance of pregnancy and reducing problem areas.  Pharmacotherapy ranges from taking painkillers, anti-inflammatories, oral contraceptives and/or medicines that suppress hormone activity and, consequently, inhibit the growth of endometrial tissue.

Surgical treatment can already be recommended for removing the endometriosis troubles areas through laparoscopy or by removing the pelvic organs effected or, in more serious situations, by removing the uterus (hysterectomy), the tubes, the ovaries or the endometriosis masses.

How can endometriosis be prevented? 

Although it cannot always be avoided, endometriosis can be controlled by taking certain actions, such as:

  • Reducing oestrogen levels in the body
  • Selecting contraception method suitable for each body
  • Performing physical activity daily
  • Avoiding excess body fat, due to this being a source of oestrogens
  • Not smoking, nor consuming caffeine

Endometriosis: Does it cause Infertility or difficulty conceiving?

The most common outcome of endometriosis is infertility, clearly depending on how serious the endometriosis is. The explanation for this difficulty is due to the fact that endometriosis can prevent the egg and the sperm from “meeting”, or even “damage” the egg or the sperm.

Even so, women suffering from mild or moderate endometriosis are able to conceive and carry the pregnancy to term. Occasionally, specialists advise not to put off pregnancy for too long, to avoid the development of the illness possibly making conception difficult.


Written by