Endometriosis: The Condition Affecting Millions of Women

In the complex world of women’s health, there exists a condition that often evades diagnosis and comprehension among doctors. Yet, it profoundly affects the lives of millions of women. Endometriosis is an enigmatic disorder that casts a shadow on the physical, mental, and social lives of individuals. Despite its prevalence, endometriosis remains a topic shrouded in mystery, leaving many to grapple with its complex nature. 

Endometriosis is a disease that occurs when tissue similar to the endometrium, the tissue of the uterus lining, grows outside of the uterus. This condition is typically diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35, but it affects people of any age who menstruate. About 10% of women and children of reproductive age globally are diagnosed with endometriosis. This is roughly 190 million people as of 2023. The tissue can grow on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic structures; this can also cause pain, inflammation, and sometimes fertility problems. The tissue can affect egg quality, ovulation, and the function of fallopian tubes. The ovulation is affected by the irregular menstrual cycles that endometriosis causes. About 30%-50% of endometriosis patients may experience difficulties conceiving. However, with appropriate treatment and medical care, many still achieve pregnancy.

Symptoms of endometriosis can range from pelvic pain and painful menstrual cycles to painful urination and bowel movement. The cause of endometriosis is not fully known nor understood due to a lack of funding or interest from companies. Theories suggest it could involve genetics, hormone imbalances, and immune system deficiencies. There are four stages of endometriosis based on the location, extent, and depth. These four stages help doctors diagnose the severity of the condition. A diagnosis will involve taking the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies such as ultrasounds. The definitive diagnosis is made by laparoscopic surgery; this is where the tissue samples are taken and examined by professionals. 

Endometriosis is a chronic condition. Most patients have this for the entirety of their life. Management typically consists of medical, surgical, and lifestyle interventions. There are surgeries, such as laparoscopies, that can be performed to remove tissue growth, however, they are not always effective. 30% of women who undergo this surgery still have the condition return within 5 years after. Over-the-counter pain medicine, like ibuprofen and naproxen, is also helpful for women trying to manage mild to moderate pain. In cases of extreme pain, doctors may prescribe pain medication. Lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms. A balanced diet and regular exercise can help alleviate some physical pain. Stress management and having adequate sleep alleviates some of the mental and emotional pain that patients go through. 

Endometriosis is a complex and, often misunderstood, condition that affects millions of women globally. Medicinal advancements, funding placed into research, open conversations, and continued research are essential to improving the lives of those living with endometriosis. Shedding light on this condition and creating a fostering community, there are meaningful steps taken toward a future where women can find relief, empowerment, and understanding on their journey with endometriosis. 

Works Cited

“Endometriosis.” JHM, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/endometriosis. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023. 

“Endometriosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 July 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656. 

“Endometriosis.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/endometriosis. Accessed 18 Aug. 2023. 

professional, Cleveland Clinic medical. “Endometriosis Surgery: Procedures, Recovery & Results.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/4620-endometriosis-surgery. Accessed 20 Aug. 2023. 

The Royal Women’s Hospital. “Laparoscopy and Endometriosis.” The Royal Women’s Hospital, www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/periods/endometriosis/laparoscopy-and-endometriosis#:~:text=Studies%20have%20shown%20that%20five,the%20kidney%20to%20the%20bladder. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023.