What is Endometriosis?

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Please note, I am not a healthcare professional. I'm just someone who lives with endometriosis, and the information I'm sharing here comes from my experience, from knowledge that has been shared with me by healthcare professionals, and also from studies, articles, films, and podcasts that I've come across.  

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis, or "endo", is a condition where cells similar to those in the lining of the uterus (the Endometrium) is found elsewhere in the body, outside the uterus. It is most commonly found on other organs of the pelvis. "Misdirected" stem cells can become endometriosis in very remote places" such as the lungs or the brain (Endo What? film). These cells behave like the lining of the uterus, so they build up, break down and bleed - like a period does. However, unlike a period, the bleeding has no way to leave the body, and this can cause inflammation, adhesions, the formation of scar tissue and severe pain. "A major cause of pain is inflammation" (Endo What? film).

Despite this, Endometriosis does not depend on a period, so it can still build up, break down and bleed in the absence of periods. Meaning it can continue in menopause and if, like me, you are taking the contraceptive pill back-to-back to stop your periods, endometriosis is still present. The process of stopping your period by taking the pill back-to-back only slows the growth of endometriosis, it does not stop it. 

It is believed that endometriosis responds negatively and grows when exposed to the female hormone oestrogen, and that people with endometriosis have a hormonal imbalance, mainly oestrogen dominance. I talk more about hormone treatment in my 'Endometriosis Treatment' post. 

Endometriosis is a misunderstood and under researched condition. It can be debilitating, and unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis but there are some treatments that can help reduce severity of symptoms.

Classification System

ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) classification system divides endometriosis into 4 stages; simply labelled 1,2,3 and 4, with 4 being the most severe. 

It is important to note that there is no correlation between the stage (observable endometriosis) and the severity of pain. Actually, "as many as 10% to 20% of women with Stage 4 endometriosis may have no pain" (Endo What? film). 

The stages are an indicator of how much endometriosis is found, not a description of how a person experiences endometriosis or how badly it affects their lives. This staging system is not used as often as it once was. I, for example, was not given a stage.

Please note, I've written all about my journey with endometriosis, including treatments I have tried and treatments I am trying ~ 'Endometriosis: My story & what has helped me'.

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