Endometriosis sufferers may be more likely to have a close relative with the condition. Nonetheless, work is still under way on the potential link.
Endometriosis is a stressful disease. Besides heredity, other factors can increase a person’s risk of developing it.
Read about the possible relationship between genetics and endometriosis, and the other risk factors, in this article.
Is endometriosis hereditary?
Preliminary work suggests endometriosis may have an inherited aspect. Nonetheless, age is unlikely to be the only risk factor, or the most strong.
A 2010 study included 80 endometriosis participants, and 60 without endometriosis. Endometriosis sufferers were more likely to have a parent with the disorder.
Nearly 5.9 percent of endometriosis participants had a first degree relative with the condition, compared to just 3 percent of those without the health problem.
While the probability of having a relative with the condition in the endometriosis group nearly doubled, the likelihood was still very small.
The study found no significant variations in symptoms when comparing those of endometriosis patients and a family history of the problem and those of endometriosis patients but no family history.
There are many factors which complicate it. For example, up until recently, many doctors had been ill-informed about endometriosis and it was often misdiagnosed. Some research suggests as many as 70 percent of cases were undetected in the 1970s.
This means that moms and other relatives of endometriosis patients may have had the disease but never received a diagnosis.
An endometriosis gene?
Researchers are continuing to look for particular genetic causes of endometriosis.
One potential target is a variant of a gene called β1 gene-509C / T transforming growth factor. Nonetheless, a 2012 meta-analysis of prior research found no significant link between this gene and the disease.
A 2019 study identified over two dozen genes that have been related to endometriosis by various studies. Researchers nonetheless have yet to show that the condition is necessarily triggered by any specific gene.
Instead, researchers suggest that gene-environmental interactions may play a part.
Epigenetic factors that play a role in endometriosis according to a 2016 study. These are factors which may alter the expression of genes.
Without exposure to certain epigenetic risk factors such as stress or pollution, a person with a gene that increases the risk of endometriosis may not develop the disease.
Because family members often live in similar environments, they may share epigenetic risk factors within a family.
Other risk factors
A person with endometriosis can experience unusually frequent periods which last longer than 7 days.
Pelvic pain is the primary symptom and a person may also experience stomach or digestive problems, such as constipation, which correlate with menstruation.
Endometriosis patients will be more likely to have had their first periods before the age of 11, and more likely to experience infertility.
A range of factors, beyond the possible genetic link, may increase the risk of developing endometriosis including:
- alcohol use
- advanced age
- lifestyle and environmental factors, such as stress, exposure to pollution, and exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals
Some of those causes may be genetic in themselves.
With age the risk of endometriosis increases. This can be attributed to the combination of lifestyle consequences and environmental factors. Or, it might be that endometriosis associated genes change with age.
Endometriosis affects at least 176 million women worldwide, and at least 1 in 10 women in the US.
Depression rates in people with chronic illnesses, including endometriosis, are 15–20 percent higher. Chronic pain is often a major factor.
One survey of doctors in a French area found that 63 percent had no confidence in their ability to treat endometriosis, and only half could name three key signs of the disease.
According to one study, the time it takes to treat endometriosis tends to shorten in the US. In average however, women with endometriosis wait between the onset of symptoms and the final diagnosis for 4–11 years.
A 2016 Dutch study found the average diagnosis period to be more than 5 years. The researchers reported that the blame for this delay was on average for doctors for 2 years.
Findings like these suggest the symptoms are new to physicians and the public. Most people with endometriosis either assume their symptoms are “natural” or something they must “deal with.”
Endometriosis allows tissue to develop outside the uterus which is close to the uterine lining. Based on where the tissue develops, this can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Symptoms vary from:
- pelvic pain, which may be severe
- fertility problems
- bleeding from the rectum
- bleeding between periods
- passing large blood clots during a period
- heavy periods that last a long time or come very frequently
- pain during sex
- chronic lower back pain
- leg pain
- pain when urinating
- digestive issues or painful bowel movements, especially during menstruation
Can it be prevented?
There is no proof that endometriosis is preventable by a individual.
Endometriosis is an oestrogen-dependent disease, and reducing the body’s estrogen levels can reduce the risk of the condition or improve symptoms in people who have it already.
Several methods for reducing levels of oestrogens include:
- exercising regularly
- having no more than one caffeinated drink a day
- having no more than one alcoholic drink a day
- switching to a birth control method with less or no estrogen, if applicable
Endometriosis may decrease fertility for women who want to become pregnant, but certain medicines and approaches can help.
A doctor may do surgery to remove tissue and adhesions from the endometriosis.
Although endometriosis can occur in families, many endometriosis sufferers are unable to recognise a relative with the disease.
This may be because people do not tend to talk about unpleasant reproductive health problems, or because, until recently, endometriosis has not been a well known condition.
A person with symptoms but no family history of the disease should not take it for granted that they do not.
Anyone with signs of endometriosis should seek diagnosis and treatment with a doctor.
Deeply infiltrative endometriosis: What to know
Deeply infiltrative endometriosis is an uncommon and severe type of endometriosis. It, like other types of endometriosis, causes the growth of uterine lining-like tissue in other parts of the body.
Deeply infiltrative endometriosis is a type of severe endometriosis that has progressed to organs close to or inside the pelvic cavity. This has the potential to harm the bladder, intestines, reproductive system, and other organs. It causes inflammation, which results in scar tissue known as adhesions.
Excruciating menstrual periods, pain during sex, chronic pelvic pain, difficulty peeing, and digestive difficulties are all indications of deeply infiltrative endometriosis. It may also have an impact on a person’s fertility. Although the condition can be severe, doctors find it difficult to diagnose because symptoms overlap with those of other health concerns.
This article discusses the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of profoundly infiltrative endometriosis. It also examines problems and fertility.
Endometriosis of the deep infiltrative kind is a type of endometriosis. Endometriosis causes endometrial tissue to grow in locations other than the uterus, such as the pelvis or abdomen.
These tissues function similarly to the endometrium in that they accumulate and shed during the menstrual cycle. However, because there is no route for this tissue to exit the body, it becomes stuck, causing inflammation, scarring, and cysts.
Endometriosis is classified as kind and stage based on its location, depth, and amount of tissue affected.
Endometriosis is classified into four types:
- deeply infiltrative endometriosis
- abdominal wall endometriosis
- superficial peritoneal endometriosis
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine defined four phases of endometriosis severity in 1996:
- Stage 1 (minimal): At this stage, there are few implants and little to no scar tissue.
- Stage 2 (mild): There are implants deeper in the tissue at this stage, as well as some scar tissue.
- Stage 3 (moderate): At this point, there are several deep implants, maybe with cysts on the ovaries and thick regions of scar tissue known as adhesions.
- Stage 4 (severe): At this stage, there are several implants, some of which are deep, with dense adhesions and big cysts on one or both ovaries.
Deeply infiltrative endometriosis is uncommon, affecting just around 1% of women of reproductive age. It is a severe form of endometriosis in which endometrial tissues invade organs within the pelvis, abdomen, and other areas, such as:
- abdominal surgical scars
- fallopian tubes
When it comes to endometriosis, a person’s disease stage does not always correspond to their amount of pain. A person, for example, may have few adhesions but excruciating cramping pain. A person may have severe profoundly infiltrative endometriosis with no symptoms.
Endometriosis symptoms vary depending on the location of the body affected. Lesions linked with profoundly infiltrative endometriosis frequently damage nerve-rich areas, causing significant discomfort and pain.
Endometriosis people frequently endure significant cramping and pain during menstruation. Doctors call this dysmenorrhea.
They may also have pain during sexual activity as well as nonspecific pelvic pain. This pain could be chronic or just occur at certain points of the menstrual cycle.
Because the condition can change the structure of the pelvis and cause scar tissue to form, deeply infiltrative endometriosis can also impact fertility.
Endometriosis of the bladder or urinary tract can cause the following symptoms:
- experience burning sensations when urinating
- have blood in their urine
- feel pain when the bladder is full
- often feel the need to urinate urgently
Endometriosis of the bladder can also cause pelvic and lower back pain.
Endometrial tissue can grow anywhere in the intestine, but according to 2014 research, approximately 9 out of 10 occurrences of bowel endometriosis affect the rectum or sigmoid colon.
Among the symptoms are:
- painful bowel movements
- general pelvic pain
- pain during sexual intercourse
Symptoms frequently vary across people and with the menstrual cycle.
Doctors may struggle to diagnose endometriosis because there is no single test that can confirm the condition. Symptoms may also be similar to those of other health issues.
A laparoscopy is often the best technique to diagnose endometriosis, but it is fraught with complications. As a result, doctors may employ a combination of the following:
Laparoscopy is most typically used by doctors to confirm the presence of endometriosis and to assess the severity of the condition. During the operation, a surgeon inserts a camera or laparoscope through a small incision in the pelvis to see if endometriosis is present.
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are numerous treatment methods that may provide relief from severe symptoms.
The goal of treatment may be to alleviate pain, increase fertility, limit the growth of endometriosis tissue, or prevent it from reoccurring.
The surgeon’s goal with conservative surgery is to remove only affected tissue while leaving healthy tissue alone.
A surgeon can utilize a variety of procedures to treat endometriosis, but laparoscopic surgery (laparoscopic excision) is the gold standard. During this operation, the surgeon uses as little heat and electricity as possible to remove or cut the entire lesion from wherever it is in the body.
Laser ablation is frequently used by surgeons to eliminate endometriosis lesions, however there is a danger of harming surrounding healthy tissue. In most cases, ablation is not long-term beneficial. The best approach is laparoscopic excision.
If endometriosis affects a specific organ, a surgeon may recommend surgical removal of the affected organ. During a hysterectomy, for example, the surgeon may remove the uterus. The ovaries and cervix may also be removed. It is critical to remember, however, that a hysterectomy does not cure endometriosis because the implants frequently arise in other locations.
Medication for pain relief
To relieve pain, anti-inflammatory medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may be used. If these over-the-counter solutions do not provide relief, they may choose to consult with a doctor about prescription options.
A doctor may advise hormone therapy to reduce estrogen production in the body, as this hormone promotes the development of endometriosis tissue.
The combined oral contraceptive pill, progesterone-only options such as the minipill, Depo-Provera, the progesterone intrauterine system, and the contraceptive implant are all hormone treatment choices. Injections of leuprolide acetate (Lupron), a more potent hormonal therapy, are also a possibility.
Complications like as adhesions and a frozen pelvis are possible in people with deeply infiltrative endometriosis.
Adhesions are fibrous bands of scar tissue that occur as a result of injuries, surgery, or the body’s reaction to the inflammation caused by endometriosis implants.
A frozen pelvis occurs when the organs of the pelvis become linked to one another by adhesions and “frozen” in position. Operating on a frozen pelvis is extremely difficult since the anatomy is deformed, increasing problems.
Endometriosis that is deeply infiltrative can impact a woman’s fertility. Adhesions can, for example, hinder eggs from traveling or implanting in the uterus. They can also block off the ovaries’ blood supply or trap blood in the ovaries, resulting in cysts.
According to studies, 30–50 percent of people with endometriosis are unable to conceive. Experts, on the other hand, have yet to confirm the link between the two.
Another thing worth mentioning is that if a person with deeply infiltrative endometriosis becomes pregnant, her chances of having a cesarean section are doubled when compared to people without endometriosis.
Questions to ask a doctor
If a woman has deeply infiltrative endometriosis, it’s critical to have an open and honest conversation with her doctor about her diagnosis and treatment options.
The questions below are an excellent place to start:
- Can I have surgery to remove the adhesions?
- Is the surgery risky for my situation?
- Where are the adhesions located?
- What are the treatment options?
- Do I have extensive adhesions?
- Will the endometriosis implants affect my fertility?
People can get support and information from organizations like the Endometriosis Association to assist them advocate for their own health. People with endometriosis can get help, education, and support from this organization.
Endometriosis with deep infiltrative endometriosis is an uncommon but serious type of endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissues that mimic the uterine lining grow and implant in other parts of the body, such as the bladder, lungs, and digestive tract.
These implants can cause scar tissue adhesions, causing pain and affecting a person’s fertility.
These implants have spread outside of the pelvis in cases with profoundly infiltrative endometriosis. As a result, it may cause problems with bladder and bowel function, as well as chronic pelvic pain, penetrative sex pain, and severe period cramps.
Pain medicines, hormone therapies, and surgery to remove adhesions are some of the therapeutic choices that may help an individual’s symptoms.
What to eat during your period to help you feel better
Some studies suggest that dietary adjustments may help minimize period symptoms, while research is still in its early stages.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can help reduce period symptoms like bloating and pain in some circumstances. During menstruation, however, a person may choose to take additional efforts to ease symptoms and maintain their overall health.
This article examines foods that people should consume during their period to help alleviate symptoms.
Best foods to consume
Specific meals may help ease certain period symptoms, according to some data. According to the Office on Women’s Health, around 90% of women suffer from premenstrual symptoms such as:
- period pain or dysmenorrhea
- lower back pain
- mood swings
- constipation or diarrhea
- breast tenderness
The foods listed below have been shown to help with period-related symptoms.
Vegetables and fruits
Fruit and vegetables are an important source of nutrients and fiber for everyone, but they may be especially beneficial during menstruation.
In a 2018 research of Spanish university students, vegetarian diets and just eating more fruits and vegetables were linked to fewer cramps and less menstrual pain.
This was true in several of the trials examined by the authors, but it did not appear to help people with endometriosis.
Drinking adequate water is vital for good health, and it can help prevent dehydration headaches during menstruation. It can also help you avoid bloating and water retention.
The American Dietary Guidelines for 2015-2020 do not include a daily water intake. The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, on the other hand, suggests consuming 6–8 glasses of water per day.
Seafood and fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in salmon, tuna, sardines, and oysters. These nutrients can help with period pain by reducing inflammation in the body.
The effect of omega-3 supplementation on the degree of menstruation pain in women aged 18–22 years old was investigated in a study published in 2012.
The omega-3 supplements were given to one group, while the placebo was given to the other. The pain severity of the omega-3 group participants was significantly reduced. They also took fewer ibuprofen doses to manage their pain.
Omega-3s may also help with depression, according to a 2014 study. Those who endure mood swings and poor mood around their period may benefit from this.
Omega-3s can also be found in the following foods:
- flaxseed and flaxseed oil
- chia seeds
- algal oil
- soybean and canola oil
- fortified foods, including some yogurts, juices, and plant-based milk
Dark chocolate is delicious and high in iron and magnesium.
Iron deficiency can be avoided by eating adequate iron. Menstruation causes a drop in iron levels as a person sheds blood, which can lead to anemia in those who have very heavy periods. People who have heavy periods or menorrhagia lose much more iron during their menstrual cycle than those who have “regular menstrual bleeding,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
3.4 milligrams (mg) of iron are found in a 1 ounce portion of dark chocolate. This amounts to around 19% of the recommended daily consumption of 18 mg for adult females.
Dark chocolate also delivers a boost of magnesium. According to a 2015 study, people who are deficient in magnesium are more likely to have severe PMS symptoms.
Lentils and beans
Lentils and beans are high in protein and a good source of iron. Protein is vital for good health, and it may also help control cravings for less healthful foods during menstruation.
Legumes also contain zinc, which is an important mineral. Zinc was reported to help relieve unpleasant menstrual cramps in a 2007 study.
Foods to avoid
Some meals can help with period symptoms while others can make them worse. These are typically foods that cause bloating or inflammation.
Foods to stay away from include:
- highly processed foods, also known as ultra-processed foods
- foods high in sugar
- goods baked using white flour, such as white bread or pasta
- foods that cause gas, such as cauliflower or Brussels sprouts
Additionally, limiting sodium consumption can aid in the reduction of bloating and weight gain associated with menstruation. According to a 2019 study, increasing sodium intake may increase the likelihood of bloating. It’s important noting, however, that this study focused on bloating in general, not period-related bloating.
According to the American Heart Association, most people should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Maintaining salt levels below this level can aid in bloating reduction.
Foods to shorten periods
Despite the scarcity of study in this area, it appears that foods containing specific nutrients may help to shorten the duration of a period.
Vitamin B6 is one such example. According to a 1983 study, this vitamin balances menstrual hormones by lowering estrogen and increasing progesterone. This could perhaps shorten a period and alleviate PMS symptoms.
Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of foods. Fish, organ meats, potatoes, and starchy vegetables are among the best sources.
Myrtle fruit syrup may also aid, though it’s not frequent. In a 2014 research of 30 people, daily doses of syrup were found to reduce the amount of bleeding days while also reducing pain. Because of the small sample size, more research is needed to determine whether myrtle fruit syrup can help with bleeding and pain.
When to contact a doctor
While many menstruation symptoms are common, people should see a doctor if they have any of the following:
- bleeding after sex
- irregular periods
- spotting or bleeding between periods
- bleeding after menopause
- heavy bleeding
- bleeding that lasts longer than 7 days
- severe pain or pain that does not go away with OTC pain relievers
When a person is losing blood, for example, consuming iron-rich meals can help replenish iron levels. Magnesium and zinc, among other minerals, may assist to alleviate discomfort.
Severe or irregular periods should be discussed with a doctor, since they may indicate an underlying condition that requires medical attention.
Ovarian cysts: Things you need to know
An ovarian cyst develops as the fluid builds up within the ovary inside a thin membrane. The size can vary from as small as a pea to greater than an orange.
A cyst is a closed structure that resembles a sac. This is separated by a membrane from the surrounding tissue. It is an abnormal fluid pocket, similar to that of a burn. It comprises material which is either liquid, gaseous or semi-solid. The outer or capsular portion of a cyst is called the cyst wall.
It’s different from an abscess, because it’s not pus-filled. A pus-filled sac is an abscess.
The majority of ovarian cysts are small and harmless. They occur most commonly during reproductive years but at any age they can appear.
Sometimes there are no signs or symptoms, but occasionally the ovarian cysts may cause pain and bleeding. When the cyst has a diameter of more than 5 centimetres, it may need to be removed surgically.
Important facts about ovarian cysts:
- An ovarian cyst is a buildup of fluid within an ovary surrounded by a thin shell, or membrane.
- Ovarian cysts are usually harmless, but a large one may need to be removed.
- There are two main types of ovarian cysts: functional ovarian cysts and pathological cysts.
- In most cases, ovarian cysts will cause no signs or symptoms.
There are two main types of ovarian cysts:
- Functional ovarian cysts – the most common type. These harmless cysts form part of the female’s normal menstrual cycle and are short-lived.
- Pathological cysts – these are cysts that grow in the ovaries; they may be harmless or cancerous (malignant).
The causes are different for each type. We will look at each type in turn.
Functional ovarian cysts
There are two types of functional ovarian cysts:
1) Follicular cysts
The most common form of follicular cysts is. A woman does have two ovaries. The egg travels into the womb from an ovary, where it can be fertilized by sperm. The egg is produced in the follicle, containing fluid that protects the growing egg. The follicle bursts, as the egg is released.
For certain cases, after release of the egg, the follicle either does not lose its fluid and contract, or it does not release an egg. The follicle swells with blood, becoming an ovarian follicular cyst.
Usually one cyst emerges at any given time, and it usually goes away within a few weeks.
2) Luteal ovarian cysts
These are less common. This leaves tissue behind, known as the corpus luteum, after the egg is released. Luteal cysts can form when blood is filled in to the corpus luteum. Typically this form of cyst goes away within a few months. Often, however, it may split, or crack, causing sudden pain and internal bleeding.
There are two types of pathological cysts:
1) Dermoid cysts (cystic teratomas)
In general, a dermoid cyst is benign. They are created from the cells which produce eggs. Such cysts ought to be surgically removed. Dermoid cysts are the most common form of pathologic cyst for women under the age of 30.
Cystadenomas are ovarian cysts that grow out of cells covering the outer ovary. Others are filled with a thick, mucous substance while others are filled with a watery liquid.
Cystadenomas are normally connected to the ovary by a stem, instead of developing inside the ovary. They can grow very large by living outside of the ovary. They are rarely cancerous but need surgically removed.
Cystadenomas are more common in women over 40 years old.
Signs and symptoms
Most cysts are non-symptomatic. If signs are present, they are not necessarily helpful to diagnose an ovarian cyst since other disorders have similar symptoms, such as endometriosis.
Symptoms of an ovarian cyst may include:
- Irregular and possibly painful menstruation: It may be heavier or lighter than before.
- Pain in the pelvis: This may be a persistent pain or an intermittent dull ache that spreads to the lower back and thighs. It may appear just before menstruation begins or ends.
- Dyspareunia: This is pelvic pain that occurs during sexual intercourse. Some women might experience pain and discomfort in the abdomen after sex.
- Bowel issues: These include pain when passing a stool, pressure on the bowels or a frequent need to pass a stool.
- Abdominal issues: There may be bloating, swelling, or heaviness in the abdomen.
- Urinary issues: The woman may have problems emptying the bladder fully or she may or feeling the need to urinate frequently.
- Hormonal abnormalities: Rarely, the body produces abnormal amounts of hormones, resulting in changes in the way the breasts and body hair grow.
Some symptoms may resemble those of pregnancy, for example, breast tenderness and nausea.
An ovarian cyst often causes no problems, but sometimes it can lead to complications.
- Torsion: The stem of an ovary can become twisted if the cyst is growing on it. It can block the blood supply to the cyst and cause severe pain in the lower abdomen.
- Burst cyst: If a cyst bursts, the patient will experience severe pain in the lower abdomen. If the cyst is infected, pain will be worse. There may also be bleeding. Symptoms may resemble those of appendicitis or diverticulitis.
- Cancer: In rare cases, a cyst may be an early form of ovarian cancer.
Treatment will depend on:
- the person’s age
- whether they have undergone menopause or not
- the size and appearance of the cyst
- whether there are any symptoms
Watchful waiting (observation)
Watchful waiting is often recommended , especially if the cyst is a tiny, functional cyst (2 to 5 centimeters) and the woman has not yet had a menopause
An ultrasonography scan will check the cyst a month or so later to see if it has gone
Birth control pills
The doctor can prescribe birth control pills to reduce the risk of new cysts forming in future menstrual cycles. Oral contraceptives may also reduce the risk that ovarian cancer can develop.
Surgery may be recommended if:
- there are symptoms
- the cyst is large or appears to be growing
- the cyst does not look like a functional cyst
- the cyst persists through 2 to 3 menstrual cycles.
Two types of surgery are:
- Laparoscopy, or keyhole surgery: The surgeon uses very small tools, to remove the cyst through a small incision. In most cases, the patient can go home the same day. This type of surgery does not usually affect fertility, and recovery times are fast.
- Laparotomy: This may be recommended if the cyst is cancerous. A longer cut is made across the top of the pubic hairline. The cyst is removed and sent to the lab for testing. The patient usually stays in the hospital for at least 2 days.
Unless the cyst is cancerous, a biopsy can be performed for examination.
When the test indicates cancer, more organs and tissue, such as the ovaries and the uterus, can need to be removed.
Most ovarian cysts do not exhibit signs or symptoms, so they still remain undiagnosed.
A cyst not causing symptoms may often be detected through an unrelated pelvic or ultrasound scan.
Diagnosis is aimed at determining the cyst ‘s form, size and composition, whether it is filled with solid or liquid.
Tests for Diagnosis can include:
- an ultrasound scan
- a blood test
- a pregnancy test
There is no way to prevent development of the ovarian cysts.
Regular pelvic checks, however, may allow early treatment where appropriate. This can also avoid complications from happening.