Whereas endometriosis is a typical situation, affecting as many as one in each 10 American girls, it’s advanced and infrequently misunderstood. Endometriosis happens when tissue very similar to the tissue that usually strains the uterus — referred to as the endometrium — begins to develop elsewhere within the physique. These growths could trigger ache, scarring, and, in some situations, infertility.

One research reveals it will possibly take as much as seven years for a lady to get a analysis of endometriosis as a result of signs could mimic different widespread situations, corresponding to irritable bowel syndrome or pelvic inflammatory illness. And misconceptions in regards to the illness, together with the 5 myths beneath, could maintain some girls from searching for assist. Discuss to your well being care crew if you happen to’re involved about painful intervals or different potential symptoms of endometriosis, corresponding to long-lasting ache in your decrease again or pelvis.

5 myths — and the information — about endometriosis

Fantasy 1: The signs are only a heavy interval. Ladies with endometriosis generally assume that their signs are a standard a part of menstruation, and once they do search assist they’re generally dismissed as overreacting to regular menstrual signs. However in truth, one thing way more severe is happening than interval cramps. One idea is that the ache happens as a result of even when endometrium-like tissue is exterior the uterus, it continues to answer hormonal indicators and produce chemical substances that trigger irritation and ache.

In the course of the course of the menstrual cycle, this endometrium-like tissue thickens and ultimately bleeds. However not like endometrial tissue within the uterus, which is ready to drain by way of the vagina every month, blood from displaced tissue has nowhere to go. As a substitute, it swimming pools close to the affected organs and tissues, irritating and inflaming them. The result’s ache, and generally the event of scar tissue that may kind an online, fusing organs collectively. This may increasingly result in ache with motion or sexual exercise.

Fantasy 2: Endometriosis solely impacts the pelvic area. The commonest places for endometriosis growths to happen are inside the pelvis, corresponding to on the outer floor of the uterus, the bladder, and the fallopian tubes. However endometriosis could happen wherever within the physique. Not often, endometrium-like tissue has been discovered within the lungs, for instance.

Fantasy 3: Endometriosis is all the time painful. Not everybody with endometriosis experiences ache. It’s not unusual for a lady to be taught she has endometriosis solely after she begins investigating why she is having problem getting pregnant. Endometriosis is the main explanation for infertility in america. Having the situation additionally will increase the probability of miscarriage and different issues in being pregnant. Nonetheless, the excellent news is that the overwhelming majority of ladies with endometriosis are in the end in a position to have a toddler.

Fantasy 4: Endometriosis will be prevented. There’s no clearly understood trigger for endometriosis, so at this level there isn’t a recognized strategy to stop it. Sure steps to assist decrease estrogen ranges within the physique can cut back your threat, in accordance with the US Workplace of Ladies’s Well being. Estrogen can gasoline the expansion of endometriosis and amplify signs. You’ll be able to cut back your estrogen ranges by selecting a lower-estrogen contraception technique, shedding weight if you’re chubby, and getting common train.

Fantasy 5: Endometriosis all the time improves after menopause. Though endometriosis signs happen most frequently throughout menstruation, for some girls they final effectively after month-to-month cycles finish. Even after a girl goes by way of menopause, the ovaries proceed to supply small quantities of estrogen. Endometriosis growths could proceed to answer the hormone, inflicting ache. So, whereas signs of endometriosis enhance in many ladies, menopause doesn’t carry aid to all. Some girls who’ve gone by way of menopause could go for surgical procedures to take away endometriosis implants or adhesions, and even hysterectomy and oophorectomy (eradicating the ovaries). Nonetheless, these procedures will not be all the time profitable in controlling ache. Hormonal therapies, too, look like much less efficient in girls after menopause.

For details about treating endometriosis ache, see this post from the Harvard Well being Weblog.