Endometriosis: why awareness is key

lifestyle July 19, 2016 01:00

By DR SANTI PONGPHANTARAK
Specia

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Endometriosis, often referred to as chocolate cysts, is a condition that most commonly affects women during their reproductive years.



Endometriosis, often referred to as chocolate cysts, is a condition that most commonly affects women during their reproductive years. One theory for endometriosis is that they are caused by retrograde menstruation, where menstrual blood flows back through the fallopian tubes and deposits the tissue in various locations, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, intestines, or other tissues attached to the uterus. 
At first, there may be no indication or noticeable pain, but over time, the surrounding tissue can become inflamed or swollen, which may then develop into lesions or growths. If the displaced endometrial tissue becomes lodged on the ovaries, blood during the menstrual cycle becomes trapped and has nowhere to go, thus accumulating more and more until it forms cysts. As blood that collects over time thickens, it becomes a dark blood colour, thus earning the name “chocolate cysts”. 
While this explanation seems reasonable, in truth no clear medical conclusion has been reached regarding the cause of this disease. As far as the symptoms are concerned, women who have endometriosis will often experience very painful menstrual cramps, increasing in pain until they become almost unbearable and require painkillers and/or until their work schedule or daily life and activities are impeded. Some women experience pain in other parts of the body as well, for example, pain in the lower back and pelvic area. 
Sometimes it can cause flatulence, bloating or diarrhoea. Some women also experience deep pain in the uterus or lower abdomen during sexual intercourse.
 Simply stated, this is a condition that has the potential to greatly affect the daily life and activities of women, and if left untreated for too long, it can progress to the point of unbearable pain, at which point surgical removal of the uterus may be required. And of course, allowing this to happen would mean an inability to have children in the future,
It is, therefore, wise to seek treatment early.
If the symptoms are mild, the doctor may choose to follow up with periodic examinations, and in cases that are further developed, prescribe medication. If, however, the medication prescribed appears to be ineffective, surgery might be necessary. The current surgical method for this type of procedure is laparoscopic surgery, a standard modern surgical procedure that requires only a small incision, resulting in minimal pain and a much faster recovery time. With this technique, surgery need not worrisome or alarming. 
This type of surgery therefore is the perfect solution to a wide variety of other gynaecological conditions as well. As it is a method that is both fast and convenient, it meets the needs and lifestyle of today’s modern women with greater responsibilities both in the workplace and in society at large. For women today, long recovery periods are often impossible, making this type of surgery a perfect choice.
Endometriosis, while often not considered a serious disease, should not be left untreated, as it certainly causes pain and discomfort and disturbs one’s daily life and activities. Now, there is no reason to endure that kind of physical suffering. 
Early detection and treatment is always the best solution before the condition becomes more dangerous or debilitating.
 
DR SANTI PONGPHANTARAK is an obstetrician and gynaecologist and a specialist in gynaecologic endoscopic surgery at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital.