March is Endometriosis Awareness Month
Posted by Dr. Alda Ngo
About 1 in 10 Womxn have endometriosis.
Endometriosis is when tissue similar to the uterine lining (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus and responds to hormonal changes, as the endometrium does. So during menstruation, it also bleeds, but unlike the endometrium – it has nowhere to go.
This tissue forms endometrial adhesions in the pelvis and causes all kinds of issues including inflammation, scarring, nerve pressure, and even organ damage and dysfunction.
Severe and often debilitating pain, heavy / prolonged menstruation, digestive disorders, infertility and chronic fatigue are among some of the symptoms of endometriosis.
It is a part of the period poverty landscape, as it can be a barrier to opportunity, with its often debilitating symptoms. Endometriosis is estimated to cost the US over $78 billion each year in medical costs and work productivity.
It has long been theorized to be due to retrograde menstruation – period blood that goes the wrong way through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. This is apparently a common occurrence in all womxn, but only develops into endometriosis 10% of the time.
Although the above theory may be true in some cases, endometriosis present in fetal development – before any kind of menstruation takes place, let alone retrograde menstruation – suggests that may not be true in all cases.
So there is ultimately no proven cause or cure for endometriosis.
Other theories suggest a genetic component. Those who have a close relative with endometriosis are 5-7 times more likely to also have it.
Theories involving stem cells, the lymphatic system, immune system and complex inflammatory responses have been proposed, but mechanisms are poorly understood.
It can take upwards of 7-10 years for a proper diagnosis, and the only definitive diagnosis for endometriosis is through laparoscopic surgery and biopsy.
️Follow us throughout the month to learn more about endometriosis, and ways to support yourself, or those you know who struggle with it.