WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS?
During your menstrual period, estrogen levels increase and you produce extra endometrial cells that multiply and thicken the lining of your uterus to prepare for your egg to pass through. Normally, these healthy cells detach from your uterine lining and leave your body during menstruation. But sometimes endometrial cells grow outside the uterus — where they don't belong — on other nearby organs around your pelvis like your ovaries, fallopian tubes or bladder.
Once those cells start growing where they shouldn't, it's called endometriosis. But many women don't notice symptoms for years. The abnormal endometrial cells don't exit during your period — in fact, they don't leave your body at all. They stick around, and they multiply every month when your hormones are stimulated again. These cells continue to multiply, and it can take a few years before you experience any symptoms. As the long-term cycle continues, you may eventually experience scarring (called adhesions) and pain. That's when you realize something's wrong.
Symptoms of endometriosis may start to appear gradually, making them tough to notice initially. At first, you might just feel like you had a particularly rough period. But if the following symptoms persist or get worse after a few cycles, it's time to talk with your gynecologist:
•Menstrual pain, pelvic cramps or abdominal pain a week or two before your period or during your period
•Pelvic pain or lower back pain during your menstrual cycle
•Premenstrual spotting or any bleeding in between periods
•Pain during or after sex
Do Symptoms Always Show?
You can have endometriosis without experiencing pain and other symptoms. Sometimes the abnormal cells grow without causing major pain, which makes it even more important to tell your doctor about any spotting or bleeding in between periods.
Conversely, for some women, even mild endometriosis can cause severe pain. It's not about the number of cells; it's about where they are and sometimes how bad the scarring is.
WHAT CAUSES ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Unfortunately, the causes of endometriosis are basically unknown. While there may be some level of genetic predisposition to the disease, researchers can't quite figure out what makes the endometrial cells grow in the wrong places. They're working on some theories, like the possibility that some cells travel backward through the fallopian tubes during your period and attach themselves to nearby organs. It's a reasonable illustration, but it still doesn't answer the question of why.
Because the cause is unclear, there's little you can do in the way of prevention. Vigilance, therefore, is incredibly important. The first symptoms are pain, but in some cases, untreated endometriosis can lead to infertility, so err on the side of caution. If you're experiencing abnormal or more intense pain, don't chalk it up to a difficult month. Talk to your doctor.
Read more at: http://www.medhelp.org/womens-health/slideshows/Endometriosis-Get-the-Facts/149