Endometriosis [en-doh-mee-tree-oh-sis] (also referred to as “endo”) is a chronic disease that affects approximately 176 million women worldwide – that equates to 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between 15 and 49 years)1.
But despite the huge numbers of women who have Endometriosis, it is still surprising that few people have heard of it, few people know what it is and very few people know how grave the implications can be if it goes untreated.
Endometriosis can affect women from all walks of life ranging from adolescence to post-menopause, and be so painful as to render a woman or girl unable to go about her normal routine.” – Michelle E. Marvel, ERC Founder & Executive Director.
A poorly-understood disease, often times, it is mistakenly categorized as “painful cramps” – but it is much more than this. Although pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, it is only “part and parcel” of the disease2.
What is Endometriosis…exactly?
Tiny particles that are similar to the lining of the uterus, somehow find their way into the pelvic area. These particles behave similarly to the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which is how this disease got its name.
To understand what happens to your body when you have endometriosis, you first need to understand the science of what naturally happens in your body before menstruation.
What happens in your body?
Every month the endometrium builds up with blood cells and other chemicals to prepare for pregnancy. When pregnancy doesn’t occur then the endometrium sheds this blood and women have a period.
A similar reaction takes place in these stray cells (endometrial implants) that have found their way to the pelvic area, and more uncommonly in other areas of the body.
They react to the hormones, break down and bleed, but the blood and tissue shed have no way of leaving the body! This causes internal bleeding, breakdown of the blood and tissue from these sites and inflammation – and can cause pain, infertility, scar tissue formation, adhesions, and bowel problems.
This process may occur over a long period of time before you start to experience some of the symptoms associated with Endometriosis.
We continue to find that the disease remains misdiagnosed, misunderstood and ineffectively treated, despite being one of the most prevalent causes of hysterectomy, infertility and pelvic pain in women and girls around the globe.
– Michelle E. Marvel, Endometriosis Research Centre (ERC)
1 World Endometriosis Research Foundation (WERF) http://endometriosisfoundation.org/Facts-about-endometriosis.pdf 2 Endometriosis Research Center (www.endocenter.org)