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ENDOMETRIOSIS: Let's talk about it


Common symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods and pelvic pain.

What is endometriosis?


Endometriosis is a chronic condition in which the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus -"the endometrium" grows outside of it, usually in the pelvis. This tissue can implant on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other parts of the pelvic region, including your bowel or bladder, and can cause pain and inflammation.


It is estimated that up to 10% of women may be affected by endometriosis.


What causes endometriosis?


The exact cause of endometriosis is still not fully understood, but there are several theories that have been proposed to explain its development. Some of the most common theories include:


1. Retrograde Menstruation: In this theory, menstrual blood containing endometrial tissue flows back into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. This endometrial tissue then implants itself and grows on the pelvic organs, causing endometriosis.


2. Embryonic Cell Development: Endometriosis may develop from cells that are present in the pelvic area during embryonic development. These cells may differentiate into endometrial tissue and begin to grow outside of the uterus.


3. Lymphatic or Blood Vessels: Endometrial cells may spread to other parts of the body through the lymphatic or bloodstream.


4. Surgical Scarring: Endometrial cells may spread to other parts of the body during surgery, and implant and grow outside of the uterus- such as during a cesarean birth.


5. Immune System Disorders: Endometriosis may occur as a result of a problem with the immune system, which is unable to recognize and destroy endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus.


Despite these theories, the exact cause of endometriosis remains unknown, and it is likely that a combination of factors contribute to its development.


What are the symptoms of endometriosis?


Endometriosis can cause a range of symptoms, which may vary in severity and frequency from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms of endometriosis include:


How is endometriosis diagnosed?


Diagnosing endometriosis can sometimes be challenging because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, and some women with endometriosis may not have any symptoms at all. However, the following tests and procedures can be used to diagnose endometriosis:


1. Pelvic exam: During a pelvic exam, a healthcare provider can check for tenderness, masses, or growths in the pelvic area that may indicate endometriosis.


2. Ultrasound: An ultrasound can create images of the internal organs and help a healthcare provider identify the presence of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.


3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI can provide detailed images of the pelvic organs and help identify the presence of endometrial tissue.


4. Laparoscopy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a thin tube with a camera is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to directly visualize the pelvic organs and determine if endometrial tissue is present.


5. Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken and examined under a microscope to determine if it is endometrial tissue.


A healthcare provider may use one or more of these diagnostic tests to determine if a woman has endometriosis and the severity of the condition. In some cases, a combination of tests may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.


What are the different treatments for endometriosis?


The treatment options for endometriosis can vary depending on the severity of the condition and a woman's individual symptoms. Some common treatments for endometriosis include:


1. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, can help relieve pain associated with endometriosis. Hormonal medications, including birth control pills or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, can help reduce the growth of endometrial tissue and relieve symptoms.


2. Surgery: Laparoscopic surgery, also known as a laparoscopy, can be used to remove endometrial tissue growths and relieve symptoms. More severe cases of endometriosis may require a more invasive surgical procedure, such as a hysterectomy.


3. Complementary and alternative therapies: Some women with endometriosis may find relief from complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal remedies. There are several supplements that have been shown to improve the symptoms of endometriosis.


4. Lifestyle changes: Making certain lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress, can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall health.


How do functional medicine providers treat endometriosis?


Functional medicine providers approach the treatment of endometriosis with a holistic approach, taking into account a person's individual needs and underlying health conditions. They focus on addressing the root causes of endometriosis, rather than just treating symptoms, and aim to restore balance to the body.


Functional medicine providers may use a combination of conventional and alternative therapies to treat endometriosis, including:


  • Hormonal therapies

  • Nutritional support

  • Detoxification

  • Mind-body therapies

  • Lifestyle modifications


The bottom line.

You do NOT have to live with the symptoms of endometriosis. Speak to a health care provider trained in treating endometriosis. It's important to remember that functional medicine is a personalized approach to healthcare and that the specific treatment plan for endometriosis will vary from person to person. A functional medicine provider can work with you to determine the best course of action based on your unique needs and circumstances.


Carol Rademeyer is a highly regarded Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with a wealth of experience in women's health. With over 25 years of professional practice and a Master of Science Degree in Midwifery from the Midwifery Institute at Philadelphia University, she is a respected expert in her field. Her rigorous academic and professional background has earned her board certification in her specialty, and she has fulfilled the requirements in Florida for Autonomous Practice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.


In addition to her clinical practice, Carol has also made significant contributions to the broader medical community. She has been published in several prestigious medical journals and has been a speaker at the national conference for the American College of Nurse Midwives, where she has shared her expertise and insights with her peers.



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