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Endometriosis

The exact cause of endometriosis is still unknown, and most experts believe it is a combination of several factors. Probable theories include:

Retrograde menstruation - Some endometrial cells back up from the uterus through the fallopian tubes, implant in the abdomen and grow. Although many experts believe this migration occurs in all women, an immune or hormonal problem may allow the tissue to grow in women who develop endometriosis. However, this theory alone does not explain why women who undergo tubal ligation or hysterectomy can still experience symptoms of endometriosis.

Immune system dysfunction - Immunological changes have been observed in women with endometriosis and it is believed that an abnormality in the immune system allows the endometrial cells that are shed normally to attach elsewhere and grow. However, scientists are not sure whether the changes are responsible for the endometriosis, or vice versa.

Lymph or blood system transfer - Some scientists believe that endometrial tissue is distributed to other parts of the body through the lymph system or bloodstream.

Embryonic tissue - Some tissues present in the abdomen retain the ability they had in the embryo stage to transform into endometrial cells.

Genetic cause - Endometriosis tends to run in families, although the mode of inheritance is not understood. Women with an affected mother or sister are more likely to develop endometriosis.

Environmental causes - A link between exposure to dioxin and endometriosis has been demonstrated in research. Dioxin is a byproduct of pesticide and bleached pulp and paper products manufacturing.

Treatment

Doctors often treat endometriosis using a combination of drug therapy and surgery, and personalize treatment for each woman depending on the severity of the disease and its location, the woman's age, if she hopes to get pregnant, and the extent of pain or other symptoms. If you have mild endometriosis, you may need only over-the-counter pain medication or stronger, prescription pain medications. Many drug treatments also focus on decreasing estrogen production to relieve symptoms (endometriosis relies on estrogen for growth), so doctors may prescribe birth control pills or other hormones to halt menstruation for patients not trying to get pregnant.

Endometrial lesions can often be removed surgically by laparoscopy or traditional abdominal surgery, depending on the number of lesions. In cases of severe pain the nerves around the uterus or pelvis may be severed surgically or a hysterectomy may be necessary; however, the lesions may not be confined to the reproductive organs so the endometriosis may return in the case of a hysterectomy.

There is no clinical evidence to support the use of alternative therapies in the treatment of endometriosis; however, many women have found relief from symptoms using homeopathy, osteopathy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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