I thought I would explain endometriosis, in a non-doctor format, so we can all understand it better and know what we can do about it! Do you really understand… what is endometriosis?
Essentially, endometriosis is where small pieces of tissue are found in areas outside of the uterus, where they shouldn’t be. These bits of tissue are called lesions.
These cells form on the surface or walls of various pelvic organs. They include our uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowel, ureter and appendix. Other common spots include the ligaments, the cul-de-sac, the Pouch of Douglas and in the rectal-vaginal septum.
To get a better understanding of how this looks, here is a visual of the inside of a female body.
So you can see from this visual how the endometriosis lesions would form on the different organs that surround the uterus. The lesions vary in size and color depending on how they grow. Some are tiny while chocolate cysts can be much larger (1–2 cm) and are mostly found in the ovaries.
What causes the endometriosis pain?
There are different times of the month where the female body performs different functions. Your pain may be more prevalent at that time of the month or you may experience pain only during ovulation or at any given moment.
1. Adhesion Pain
Some women experience a permanent sense of pain with endometriosis, which can often be due to large adhesions that have built up between the organs.
There are women who have a very severe case of endometriosis lesions, which have spread to a number of organs, who suffer inherently very little pain, while other women who have only a small amount of lesions suffer severe pain. It depends very much on where these lesions form and the amount in one location.
The lesions are quite sticky and when large pools of them form in one location, they develop adhesions. This is essentially where they start to stick together. Severe pain can often be experienced when these adhesions form between two organs, such as the left ovary adhering to the uterus or bowel.
You can imagine that just a small amount of movement on this “sticking” would then cause severe pain.
2. Prostaglandin Pain
When you experience pain with your period, it can often be associated with the prostaglandin 2 hormone-like substances. These substances are found in different locations in the body and they perform a very important task with healing the body, including blood clotting and creating inflammation. These cells are, however, in over-supply in our pelvic area and actually contribute to blood clotting and inflammation in the area. The prostaglandins are released when we have our period to stimulate the uterus to release the blood from the body. This is why you will feel their effects more strongly whenever you are bleeding.
4. Pain from the Related Organs
The lesions that form are often formed on related organs in the pelvic area. Each one of these organs has its own duty to perform. When these separate organs become inflamed or are not functioning as well, they too can become inflamed. A bladder infection or poor bladder function is a good example of this. Essentially, a bladder infection causes inflammation in the bladder. This additional pressure enhances the pain of the lesions, which are sitting on the outside of these organs. Women with endometriosis often experience more severe pain with constipation for this reason.
5. Heavy Period or Cotting Pain
At that time of the month you may experience pain as you are bleeding more heavily. Once these large blood clots are removed, you generally feel better from the initial pain. It is called clot colic. When you are passing clots of blood, the uterus goes into a spasm, much like labor pains, until the clot is through the cervix. It is incredibly painful. The only saving grace is knowing that the large clots are coming out and not staying inside your body.
There are many different reasons for pain apart from this list but these are the main ones, which are directly related to endometriosis. A signal of pain is your body trying to tell you that something is not right, the same way you may get nauseous after eating a certain meal or get a headache after doing something. It is a warning of something that your body wants you to fix. Unfortunately, we don’t always know what it needs or how to treat it.
Personally, I have found using natural, holistic methods to treat my body have been the most successful. I have only one day of pain in a month and it is bearable. I don’t even need to take any painkillers!
It is a longer and slower process but looking back, I would’ve rather endured one year or two years of the holistic methods than spending the last fifteen years going through seven laparoscopies, eight different hormonal treatments and endless hours of fun missed in my life!
Which pain do you think your endometriosis goes through? What have you found seems to alleviate it?