You may have heard that you can’t see Endometriosis on an imaging study. Well, this is true…BUT, it’s not to say that imaging studies are useless in helping to suspect/diagnose Endometriosis. They can spot things that may indicate Endometriosis is present…One such tool is a transvaginal ultrasound (aka TVU, TVS, or TVUS).
Have you ever heard of, or had, a transvaginal ultrasound? Let me tell you : it’s not the ultrasounds you see in the movies. No cold cream squished onto my belly with a technician rubbing a scanner along my abdomen. Nope…imagine if you will : squishy cold cream rubbed onto the tip of a rather large probe…and said probe is shoved up your hoohaw (yes, that’s a technical term). It allows a better look at your organs around your feminine bits. It’s not the most comfortable procedure in the world…and can downright hurt at times. But…
As you may know, Endometriosis is not limited to just your reproductive bits & pieces. It can implant, grow, and fester in many places; the bowel included. But what does that mean? How do you know if it’s on your bowel? Today’s blog will go into that…Read on, dear Reader…read on. Word of warning : I will be using words like fart and poop! Why dance around the subject with flowery words when I feel like I’m a giggly 12-year-old girl?
It is estimated that between 5-15% (and some even doctors guess it’s actually between 3-34%) of women with Endometriosis suffer from Endo on their bowels. Bowel Endometriosis may affect the colon, the rectum, the large intestine, the small intestine, the colon, or the sigmoid colon. The implants may be physically located on the bowels, or even just located adjacent to them in areas like the Pouch of Douglas, uterosacral ligaments, or rectovaginal septum. The close proximity of the inflamed and irritated lesions may be enough to induce bowel Endometriosis symptoms. And these symptoms may also be caused by adhesions pulling or twisting the bowels.
Amy was 29 years old when she learned she had Endometriosis. Now 38 and living in New Jersey, she has turned her personal battle with Endometriosis into a campaign to help others.
Amy’s Journey: My first memory of my cramps was when I was just 14 years old. I was on vacation with my family in Florida at my Grandmother’s house. We were there for a fun family vacation. However, my cramps were so bad that my mother insisted that I do a shot of brandy to warm my insides up. I was only 14! That is how my period started and it has continued to affect my life on a constant basis.
You’ve likely heard that Endometriosis can grow in all sorts of places inside the body. Well, the bladder and urinary tract are no exception. Endometriosis implants can grow on or inside the walls of the bladder or along the urethra.
Common symptoms patients may complain about with bladder Endo are frequently needing to pee, pain when the bladder is full, painful urination, and an urgent need to pee. Some also suffer from blood in their urine when they’re on their cycles (may be hard to distinguish…given the natural course of what a period does…). This urine-blood may not be perceptible to the naked eye and require a lab test. And as usual, many EndoWarriors only have these symptoms during their periods; others have them 24/7. It should also be noted that many with bladder Endo don’t present any symptoms.
Two weeks ago a paper was published in the Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica journal. The first reported case of an Endometrioma in a dog. A German Shepherd, to be precise. Now don’t be too surprised; primates have been found to develope endometriosis: gorillas, monkeys, and baboons. But this is the first time captured in literature that an animal has developed an Endometrioma. What’s that? A blood-filled cyst consistent with Endometriosis, sometimes referred to as a Chocolate Cyst.
A friend asked me to look up any connections between Endometriosis and Cesarean Sections. So, here we go. Lots of science in this one! Some studies show that less than 1% of women who undergo a cesarean section end up developing incisional Endometriosis (Endometriosis in or along the c-section scar). However, that tiny little 1% number has a staggering amount of studies involving a lot of women who suffer from this form of Endo.
Another rare location I’ve heard can be invaded by Endometriosis is our brain. Yep. Our gray matter. But, again, curiosity led me to find documented cases, symptoms, and treatments. So I’ve scoured the interwebs for just such a thing, but it was difficult to find much of anything! This is not meant to scare anyone, or to create an Army of Hypochondriacs. It’s meant to let everyone know that, yes, it does happen. And this is what to look for…and what can be done for it..
From what I can find (which was very, very little), it appears that symptoms may include headaches or seizures. As of 2010, there have only been 3 documented cases of cerebral Endometriosis (at least in English-language literature).
Many women with Endometriosis also suffer from infertility. Why? Well, that very question spawned today’s research…
It is believed that Endometriosis is present in 24-78% of infertile women (depending on who you ask). That’s a huge figure! Infertility associated with Endometriosis may occur at any state of the disease (I to IV; mild to severe). It’s believed that the Stage of Endo may effect the rate of infertility: people with “mild” Endo have been known to conceive 2-4.5% per month; people with moderate to severe Endo drop to less than 2%. Normal, fertile couples conceive at a rate of 15-20% per month. It’s a big difference all across the board.
The medical and scientific community do not have answers as to why Endo may make women infertile; only theories:
Last night, my boyfriend and I were talking about Endo’s “weirdness” how it can pop up in strange and unheard of places, and he popped the question (no, not THEquestion…), “Are there any reports of men having Endometriosis?” I remembered reading somewhere that there were a few rare cases of it, but hadn’t read them deeply enough to understand their situations, diagnoses, and prognoses. So, we have our topic for today!!
In rare cases, cis-men develop Endometriosis. Transmen also suffer from the disease. But we will focus on cis-men for this blog: it appears many have been treated with long-term or large doses of estrogen therapy, but some are healthy men who have no history of cancer or estrogen treatment. Here’s what I could find: