Endometriosis: Some misconceptions and myths

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Endometriosis is a complex, frustrating, chronic problem that afflicts many women. There is a general lack of awareness and understanding of the condition which leads to many wrong conceptions about it.

The severe menstrual pain of endometriosis is often passed off as normal period pains.

Even doctors dismiss cases of severe cramps as "it happens" or "you are just over reacting". However, endometriosis must be considered when menstrual cramps are severe enough to disrupt normal routine and should be investigated thoroughly.

It is assumed that having endometriosis translates into infertility.

Couple DisappointedNot every woman with the condition is infertile. More than 60 to 70% of women go on to have viable pregnancies without any external intervention. On the other hand, not every woman with fertility issues suffers from endometriosis. The condition is the cause of infertility in only a fraction of women.

Only women between the ages of 25 and 40 suffer from endometriosis.

Because it often takes years, around an average of 7 years, for the condition to be diagnosed it is assumed that only women between the ages of 25 and 40 suffer from the condition. The truth is that even teenagers can get endometriosis. No one is too young to have endometriosis. The moot point is, that if you menstruate, you can develop endometriosis.

There is also a misconception that pregnancy will cure the disease.

While it is true that symptoms are alleviated during pregnancy but after delivery they come back.

Hormonal treatment will "cure" endometriosis.

Many women are on hormonal treatment, oral as well as hormonal IUDs, for endometriosis. However, hormonal treatment does not "cure" endometriosis. All that the drugs do is to manage the symptoms such as excessive menstrual bleeding and pain. Once treatment is stopped the symptoms recur.

The only permanent cure for endometriosis is surgery.

LaproscopyThe surgery is tricky and must be performed by a skilful, knowledgeable and experienced gynaecological surgeon. Only hysterectomy or the removal of the uterus and ovaries will not help. All the endometrial tissues that are outside must be looked out for and ablated with laser or other means.

Hormonal treatments also cure the infertility associated with endometriosis.

In fact, during treatment conception is just not possible as ovulation is suppressed. If treatment for infertility is required then surgery is a must.

Excision or ablation of the endometrial patches and adhesions along with restoration of the normal structure of the pelvis can increase the chances of getting pregnant by about 40%. It is recommended that the patient try to get pregnant as early as possible, within 6 months or so.

Tubal blockages are the main cause of infertility.

Another misconception is that tubal blockages because of adhesions or anatomical distortions are the main cause of infertility. In fact, the reasons for infertility in endometriosis are very complex and ill-understood so far. It could be because of a toxic environment for the sperm or antibodies acting against the ova or something else.

It is not possible to predict whether a woman with endometriosis will or will not conceive in the future. The only thing that can be said with surety is that with increasing severity of the disease the chances of getting pregnant are reduced.

Endometriosis is caused by psychological factors.

MeditationEndometriosis is not caused by psychological factors, douching or having had an abortion. Psychological stress comes on because the disease affects the patient's day to day life and sexual life impacting her all round emotional and social well being as a result.

The tissue that is found external to the uterus is not actually endometrial tissue but a tissue that is very much endometrial like.

Endometriosis is not the same thing as endometritis which is an inflammation of the uterus brought on by an infection. It is an entirely different condition.

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