Endometriosis is a female reproductive disorder in which the endometrial tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (or "womb") grows outside the uterus. Endometrial tissue can grow in the ovaries, bladder, intestine, and in other parts of the body. Endometriosis can cause heavy, painful periods and infertility, and is very common, affecting more than 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.
If you have uncomfortable symptoms due to endometriosis, our specialists in Clínica del Carmen in our 3 locations in Gran Canaria can provide you with the gynecological health services you need.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The symptoms of endometriosis are different for each woman. It is possible to have endometriosis without any noticeable symptoms. In other cases, the endometrial tissue can swell and bleed along with a woman's cycle, which can cause swelling and pain. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pain in the lower abdominal area.
- Painful menstrual cramps.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Pain when urinating or having a bowel movement during menstrual periods.
- Pain during intercourse.
What are the causes of endometriosis?
The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown. High levels of estrogen in the body seem to increase the chance of endometriosis. Endometriosis may also be related to genes because the condition runs in families.
Problems with the immune system can also lead to endometriosis. If your immune system isn't working at its best or if something goes wrong, you may not be able to identify and destroy endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Another possible cause could be previous surgery on the uterus.
Which are the risk factors?
While the exact causes of endometriosis are not fully understood, several factors can increase your chance of developing endometriosis. The most important risk factor is being a woman between the ages of 30 and 40. Other risk factors include:
- Genetics/family history (having a mother, aunt, or grandmother with endometriosis).
- Not having children.
- Having a higher percentage of body fat (which increases estrogen levels).
- High consumption of caffeine or alcohol (both substances can raise the level of estrogen in the body).
- Having consistently short menstrual cycles (with less than 25 days between cycles).
- Having consistently long periods (lasting more than seven days).
In addition to these risk factors, endometriosis has been linked to other medical conditions, meaning that developing one condition puts you at higher risk of developing the other, and vice versa. These conditions include:
- Allergies, asthma and sensitivity to chemicals or foods.
- autoimmune disorders
- Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
- Hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Hormone replacement therapies with high estrogen content.
- Previous surgery on the uterus.
- Congenital disorders or disabilities that affect the reproductive organs.
- Infertility (although the link between endometriosis and infertility remains unclear, about half of women with infertility also have endometriosis).
How can it be prevented?
It is not possible to completely prevent endometriosis, but diet and other lifestyle choices can have an impact on hormones such as estrogen (a female sex hormone). Since estrogen levels in the body are linked to a risk of developing endometriosis, you can minimize your risk by limiting the level of estrogen in your body, for example by:
- Reduce body fat levels through diet and exercise.
- Avoid excessive intake of substances that can increase estrogen, such as soy products, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Discuss hormonal birth control methods with one of our specialists, especially if you have a family history of endometriosis.
- Get regular screening exams with one of our specialists.
If you have questions about endometriosis or any gynecological pathology, our women's health experts at Carmen Clinic in Gran Canaria they will be happy to help you. Call us and schedule your appointment today!