What Is Endometriosis?

Introduction to Endometriosis

Endometriosis, often shortened to ‘endo’, is an enigmatic disease affecting millions of women all over the world regardless of country, colour, race or class in society. It is estimated that one in ten females has endometriosis. The youngest well-documented diagnosed case was an exceptionally young girl at 10 years old, after just two periods, and the oldest was a post-menopausal lady at 78 years old.

It affects women during the reproductive phase and no one has yet been able to find the real cause despite various theories. Although it is not a killer disease, it can make a woman’s life an utter misery. Unfortunately the main complaint of painful periods is often ignored as ‘a normal price to be paid for being a woman’.

Endometriosis affects every aspect of a woman’s personal life, career, job capability, social and family life. She becomes an ‘invisible woman’ silently suffering the consequences. Due to ignorance about the cause there are a variety of treatments offered. These can be medical, surgical, nutritional and complementary. NONE CAN CURE the disease but all can alleviate the symptoms to a varying degree.

Endometriosis SHE Trust (UK) believes that women’s advisors need the full facts about the disease and treatment options. Many women believe that a hysterectomy (with or without removal of ovaries) will cure endometriosis. This is possibly due to lack of information. Endometriosis education modules for medical and complementary practitioners are offered throughout the year to increase knowledge and understanding of this puzzling disease. If you are interested in these courses, please contact us for further details.

Endometriosis can have far-reaching effects on a woman’s life. Endometriosis SHE Trust (UK) offers support, information and education to women with this baffling disease, and to their carers, family and friends.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometrium is the tissue that lines the uterus (womb); this lining thickens in response to female hormones. If no pregnancy has occurred, it is shed as the monthly period.

In endometriosis, tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus (i.e: ectopically). Most commonly this occurs on or in the organs that are in the pelvis. In rare cases it can grow in other parts of the body. Each month the ectopic endometriosis responds to the female hormones in a similar way to the uterus lining. When this bleeding occurs, it cannot escape, so remains in the pelvic area where it should be absorbed and destroyed by the immune system. Surrounding tissues become engorged and inflamed, and may cause cysts and adhesions, resulting in pain.

Adhesions, cysts and scar tissue can interfere with the function of organs such as the ovaries, bowel and bladder, and can reduce a woman’s fertility.

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