Periods can often be a real pain, causing terrible menstrual cramps, headaches, and even muscle aches. But sometimes menstruation can be associated with extreme symptoms. If you are experiencing painful cramping, abnormal menstrual bleeding, and happen to be suffering from unexplained infertility, you may be experiencing a condition known as endometriosis. Endometriosis can wreak havoc with your menstrual cycle and may be contributing to your fertility issues.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a chronic disease that affects a woman's menstrual cycle. It plagues more than five million women in the United States every year. Endometriosis causes tissue that is similar to your endometrial lining to build up outside of your uterus. Just like your endometrium, this tissue can shed during menstruation, causing extreme pain and irregular bleeding.
If you suffer from endometriosis, tissue can grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterine wall. This tissue builds up during menstruation and begins to shed, only the blood has no way of exiting the body. As a result, this discarded blood and tissue remains in the body, causing pain, scar tissue, and organ adhesions.
Although the symptoms of endometriosis can be extreme, many doctors overlook these signs as just a regular part of a woman's menstrual cycle. As a result, it can often be difficult to get a proper diagnosis quickly. In fact, studies have found that it can take as much as nine years before a woman is officially diagnosed with endometriosis. To help speed up the process, knowing just what to say to your doctor about your endometriosis can help you get a diagnosis sooner.
Endometriosis and Infertility
Unfortunately, many women who suffer with endometriosis also suffer from infertility. In fact, between 30% and 40% of infertile women have endometriosis. This is because endometriosis can result in severe scarring of the reproductive organs.
As the tissue that grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterine wall sheds, scar tissue can form. This can block the fallopian tubes, disrupt the shape of your uterus, or interfere with ovulation. Endometrial tissue can also cause pelvic adhesions, in which organs vital to reproduction stick together. As a result of this, many women suffering from endometriosis cannot become pregnant.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Unfortunately, the cause of endometriosis is not completely understood, though a number of possible reasons for the disease have been addressed. Possible causes of endometriosis include:
- Genetics: Endometriosis appears to run in families, which suggests a genetic component to the disease.
- Menstrual Fluid Backup: Endometriosis may be the result of a backup of menstrual fluids. If menstrual fluids back up through the fallopian tubes, it is possible that the tissue could take root outside of the uterus.
- Problems with Lymph and Blood Systems: Endometriosis may be caused by a problem with your lymph or blood systems. These symptoms are responsible for distributing endometrial tissues around the body.