There are technically three different types of endometriosis, however, it can show up anywhere in your body. Continue reading to learn about the different types of endometriosis and the typical treatments that ease your suffering.
Endometriosis: What is it?
First of all, endometrial glands and stroma make up the endometrium, or lining of the uterus. This is the part that your body sheds each time you have a period. Endometriosis is when the glands and stroma migrate to outside the uterus.
Where Does This Occur?
Usually the glands and stroma stay within the pelvic area, but sometimes they can get around the entire body. The lesions or tumors are normally found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic ligaments, bowels, bladder, and appendix.
This ailment can be extremely painful (think: the worst cramps you’ve ever had during your period, but in your back, or stomach, or rear-end!).
What Causes Endometriosis?
Doctors aren’t really sure what causes it, but the best theory is that of Retrograde Menstruation. This is when the lining is shed during menstruation, some of it goes backwards up into the fallopian tubes and becomes embedded in the peritoneal cavity.
How is it Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is difficult because endometriosis lesions and cysts don’t show up on ultrasound or MRI. The only way to diagnose it for certain is through laparoscopic surgery.
For a less invasive diagnosis, doctors will often look for the “4 Ds of Endometriosis.” These are:
Dysmenorrhea- Painful, heavy Periods
Dysuria-pain when urinating
Dyschezia- painful defecation
Dyspareunia- pain during intercourse
Once they confirm these symptoms, the specialist will then schedule a surgery to remove the lesions.
This is the most common form of endometriosis. It is diagnosed when endometriosis lesions are found in the peritoneum, or the area around the organs of the pelvis.
There can be 1 or 2 to 50 lesions or more. Doctors find these lesions on the organs, the lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum), the intestines, and tissues of the peritoneum.
The lesions are often superficial and do not intrude deep into the tissues, therefore they are easier to remove than the deep infiltrating endometriosis cysts and lesions.
There can also be cystic or fibrotic growths with peritoneal endometriosis. This indicates the stroma of the endometrium is present with no glands.
Doctors call these “chocolate cysts” due to the thick, brown fluid they contain. They are masses that come from endometrial tissue within the ovaries.
These can be superficial or infiltrating, often depending on the size of the cysts. When they open, the fluid inside them can spread the endometriosis throughout the peritoneum.
Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis (DIE).
Aptly named, this is the most painful of the different types of endometriosis.
According to the Dr. Seckin Endometriosis Center,
“When ovarian endometriomas become large enough and invade the wall of the ovaries, they begin to leak and even rupture. When this happens, the thickened blood, inflammatory enzymes and other debris that was contained in these fluid-filled enzymes, spill onto other areas within the abdominal and pelvic cavity. The contents will then adhere to these areas and begin to form the nodules and scar tissue that are often seen in cases of deep infiltrating endometriosis.”
This type of endometriosis causes infertility, extreme pain, irregular periods, and various other reproductive and urinary issues.Treatment for DIE
Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis can lead to a condition known as Frozen Pelvis. This condition causes the pelvis to be full of scar tissue, therefore, it cannot move freely as it should.
The only way to fix this is through surgery. A specialist will go in and remove the lesions and scar tissue to free up the pelvic ligaments and organs. This should relieve pain and enable the patient to move freely again.
The doctor should also repair any tissues that have damage from the lesions and cysts before they close you up.
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