HPP_img_9563 - Beratung Dr. Peet

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a benign, but in most cases extremely painful, chronic disease affecting younger women. Even though endometriosis causes enormous physical and psychological problems for those affected and despite the fact that it is, after myomas, the second most common benign gynaecological disorder (according to conservative estimates, there are at least two million women suffering from endometriosis in Germany alone), this disease is often trivialised: “all women experience some pain”.

In endometriosis, tissue similar to that of the lining of the uterus (called the ‘endometrium’ in Latin) occurs in the lower part of the abdomen outside the uterus and grows on various organs, such as the uterus, peritoneum, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder or bowel. In vary rare cases, the disease also affects other organs, such as the lungs. In most cases, these endometriotic lesions are influenced by the hormones of the monthly cycle. Thus, the lesions may grow and bleed on a cyclical basis. This results in inflammatory reactions, the formation of cysts and the development of scarring and adhesions in the abdominal cavity. These changes may result in painful symptoms that vary according to the stage of the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is also one of the most common causes of infertility.

However “Pain during the period does not need to be the rule!“.

Development of endometriosis

Even the smallest lesions, like those seen here in the peritoneum around the bladder, can cause severe pain. Indeed, there is no correlation between the stage of endometriosis and pain. These small lesions cannot be seen in an ultrasound. To date, the only way to detect them with certainty is by surgery.

 

Why do so few women know for sure?

So-called “women’s problems” were dismissed as harmless and trivialised for years. Girls and women are affected by these problems from their first period until menopause.

Even today, patients in Germany suffer from the symptoms for 7 – 11 years before a definitive diagnosis is made. Unfortunately, many women are unaware of the disease. Many believe that they have to live with pain during their period. “That’s just the way it is” and “it will get better after the first child“. During this time, the growths can grow to such an extent that the pain they cause seriously affect the woman’s quality of life, while the resultant adhesions may prove a long-term barrier to fertility.

Endometriosis is not only an immense human problem, but also a serious problem for the national economy which even in the modern Europe of the 21st century is vastly underestimated in terms of its consequences due to outmoded perceptions of women.