Endometriosis is a painful disorder that affects thousands of women in the U.S. each year.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disorder that affects thousands of women in the U.S. each year. The endometrium is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. When the endometrium grows outside of the uterus and into the pelvic organs, endometriosis develops. This disorder can result in severe pain, especially during menstruation. Fertility problems may also arise.
The function of the endometrium is to thicken, break down and bleed with every menstrual cycle. Even when this tissue is displaced, it will still act as it normally does. If displaced tissue has no way to exit the body, it becomes trapped. If endometriosis spreads to the ovaries, cysts (known as endometriomas) may develop. The surrounding tissue will grow irritated, developing eventual scar tissue and adhesions, which are abnormal clumps of fibrous tissue that may cause the pelvic organs and tissues to stick together.
What are the causes?
The exact cause of endometriosis is not always known, but common causes include:
- An immune system disorder. With certain immune system issues, the body may not be able to recognize and eliminate endometrial tissue that is expanding outside of the uterus.
- Embryonic cell transformation. Estrogen (and other hormones) could transform embryonic cells (early developed cells) into endometrial cell implants during puberty.
- Surgical scar implantation. After a C-section or hysterectomy, endometrial cells can latch onto a surgical incision.
- Retrograde menstruation. This occurs when menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back into the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity, instead of leaving the body. These endometrial cells will stick to the pelvic organs and walls, where they will grow, thicken and bleed with each menstrual cycle.
- Transformation of peritoneal cells. Peritoneal cells are the cells that line the inner side of the abdomen. “Induction theory” concludes that immune factors and hormones can promote the transformation of peritoneal cells into endometrial cells.
Women who have never given birth, started their period at an early age, have gone through menopause, have shorter cycles, have higher levels of estrogen or have uterine abnormalities are all at an increased risk for endometriosis.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom is pelvic pain during a menstrual period, often more severe than usual. This pain can increase over time. Other symptoms include:
- Painful intercourse
- Pain during urination or bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding
Treatment Options in the greater Los Angeles area
Located in Tarzana, Dr. Taaly Silberstein provides OB/GYN care to the greater Los Angeles area. If you are suffering from the symptoms listed above, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Dr. Silberstein can diagnose endometriosis with an ultrasound or a pelvic exam. Treatment may involve surgery or medication, depending on the severity of your condition. Schedule online today or give us a call at (818) 996-3200.