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Episode 59—Endometriosis

Hello everyone!

WELCOME BACK TO 21ST CENTURY HANNAH, WHERE MY MISSION IS TO RECOGNIZE AND SPEAK TO THE BROKEN HEARTS OF CHILDLESS NOT BY CHOICE WOMEN, AND MEN, AROUND THE WORLD.  I AM SPREADING THE GREAT NEWS THAT WE CAN LIVE A JOYFUL AND RELEVANT LIFE REGARDLESS OF THE FACT THAT WE COULD NOT HAVE CHILDREN.

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Well, today’s episode is all about Endometriosis.

Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs.

With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other.

Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Surprise: Fortunately, effective treatments are available.  I did not realize that effective treatments were available. I honestly thought there was no effective treatment for Endometriosis.    

Some things that surprised me:

  • The severity of your pain isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. Some women with mild endometriosis have intense pain, while others with advanced endometriosis may have little pain or even no pain at all.
  • Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis.

It’s really important to get a second opinion especially if you’re just not feeling that the diagnosis is correct. I truly believe, and I have said it before, no one knows your body better than you do. If you are not convinced about a diagnosis, get a second opinion. 

  

Causes:

Although the exact cause of endometriosis is not certain, possible explanations include:

Retrograde menstruation. 

Transformation of peritoneal cells. 

Embryonic cell transformation. 

Surgical scar implantation. 

Endometrial cells transport. 

Immune system disorder. 

For additional details on each of these causes, see the Mayo Clinic article link in the show notes below.

As I continued my research, I went next to the Hopkins Medicine site, link in the show notes, and found the following risk factors that could cause an increased possibility for a woman to have endometriosis:

Risk Factors of Endometriosis

They say that…

While any woman may develop endometriosis, the following women seem to be at an increased risk for the disease:

  • Women who have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with the disease
  • Women who are giving birth for the first time after age 30
  • White women
  • Women with an abnormal uterus

 

Now the following information was of particular interest to me, and I am sure to those who have been diagnosed with Endometriosis:

Relationship of Endometriosis to Infertility:

 

Endometriosis is considered one of the three major causes of female infertility. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, endometriosis can be found in 24 to 50 percent of women who experience infertility.

In mild to moderate cases, the infertility may be temporary. In these cases, surgery to remove adhesions, cysts and scar tissue can restore fertility. In other cases — a very small percentage — women may remain infertile.

(Hmmmm, kinda sounds like when they told me after one of my first myomectomies, ‘OK, we removed the fibroids, now go out and get pregnant before they grow back.’ Um, OK.

Anyway…

How endometriosis affects fertility is not clearly understood. It is thought that scar tissue from endometriosis can impair the release of the egg from the ovary and subsequent pickup by the fallopian tube. Other mechanisms thought to affect fertility include changes in the pelvic environment that results in impaired implantation of the fertilized egg.

For additional information and ways to ease the pain, visit the link: Hopkins Medicine link below.

Another site you may find helpful is the ACOG, American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. It’s a site that seems to be regularly updated with educational material and workshops. Check it out!

So I love statistics because they tell a story in numbers. Yes, numbers can be skewed by human mistakes, i.e. mis-count, etc. But numbers, statistics, are the best we have at coming close to perfection.

So, according to additional research:

  • Endometriosis can first occur when girls first get their period.
  • Endometriosis affects176 million women worldwide, and 1 in 10 girls and women in the US.
  • Endometriosis usually causes symptoms during reproductive years (~12-60 years old), however many women and girls are undiagnosed.

The following additional statistics are from the CDC—centers for disease control website:

Because some women might have endometriosis, but do not have symptoms, it is difficult to know exactly how many women have the condition. Current estimates suggest that 6% to 10% of women of reproductive age have endometriosis,1,2 or approximately 5 million women in the United States.

In 2011, the NICHD-led Endometriosis: Natural History, Diagnosis, and Outcomes study found that 11% of a group of women with no symptoms of endometriosis actually had the disorder. If this finding applies to all the women in the United States, the number of American women with endometriosis may well exceed previous estimates of 5 million.

Endometriosis is most common in women in their 30s and 40s,3 but it can affect any female who menstruates.

 

 Information from the following links were used at least in part for my research: 

 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/home/ovc-20236421

 

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/gynecological_health/endometriosis_85,P00573/

 

http://www.acog.org/

 

https://www.cdc.gov/

 

https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/womensrh/healthconcerns.html

 

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/gynecological_health/endometriosis_85,P00573/

 

Stories of interest from around the world:  

 

http://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/don-t-ridicule-childless-women.html

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/health-family/what-not-to-say-to-couples-who-don-t-have-children-1.3018634

 

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2017/0325/862542-dawn-oporter/

 

 

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“When someone tells you to just forget about it, ask them what they have forgotten.”—Civilla Morgan

 

Thanks for visiting! Until next time, bye!