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March into yellow this March for Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a disease that affects more than 176 million women worldwide. It’s a common gynecological condition found within an estimated 2% to 10% of American women of childbearing age. Women with endometriosis develop tissue on other reproductive organs inside the pelvis or in the abdominal cavity that behaves like the endometrium tissue outside the uterus. This misplaced tissue responds to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle by building up and breaking down (much like the endometrium tissue), generating small bleeding inside the pelvis. This spurs inflammation, swelling, and scarring of the normal tissue.

It’s a disease that impacts all aspects of a life. Causes are still unknown despite multiple theories out there. Researchers have yet to identify one specific cause. One theory points to a sort of “reverse menstruation,” where during menstruation tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen where it attaches and grows. Despite its unknown origins, there are some things that are definite about the disease: it’s not contagious, there is a genetic component, and retrograde menstruation isn’t the main cause (90% of women have retrograde menstruation and only 1 in 10 have endometriosis).

Symptoms include:

  • Excessive menstrual cramps that may be felt in the abdomen or lower back
  • Heavy or abnormal menstrual flow
  • Painful urination/bowel movements during menstrual periods
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Infertility

Diagnosing this affliction begins with a gynecologist or health care provider. They evaluate your medical history, complete a physical examination, and conduct a pelvic exam. A diagnosis becomes certain through a laparoscopy – a minor surgical procedure in which a thin tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. Ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI scans can also play a role in endometriosis diagnosis. For many women, a diagnosis can bring relief as treatment can finally begin.

Treatment can vary from person to person based on several items, but usually consists of pain medication, hormone therapy, hysterectomy, laparoscopy, and laparotomy.

March is designated as Endometriosis Awareness Month which culminates on March 25th with the worldwide EndoMarch. The march’s goals are to empower, educate and effect change. It’s to unite women around the world and thrust the spotlight on the disease. It raises awareness and promotes early detection and improved treatment. Women are encouraged to wear yellow and share their stories on social media.

Consider a check-up at Memorial Healthcare’s Health Partners for Women. The clinic provides a wide range of obstetric and gynecology related services. Dr. Peel has recently extended her Wednesday hours until 8 p.m. to better accommodate patients’ schedules.