READ ME: What causes endometriosis?
So if you've recently discovered you have endometriosis or have a loved one who has it and you are trying to learn as much as you can...you've come to the right place.
I discovered I had endometriosis when I was 26. I developed a cyst which was putting pressure on my bladder which meant I needed to use the toilet a lot more frequently. That was the first real symptoms I experienced. One day I woke up expecting my period and blacked out. I had always had period pain before but this was something like I had never experienced before. Pain is subjective and we're conditioned to believe our periods should be painful so I had never really questioned the level of pain before.
It led me to want to learn as much as I could about endometriosis and how to manage my own symptoms which meant I wanted to know what had caused it. Was it me? Was it something that I did? Was there a genetic link?
There is no definite cause of endometriosis but there are a number of theories.
The theory of retrograde menstruation is the first and most commonly known of. This suggests that when endometrial tissue (what we know as our period) flows out of our bodies at the time of menstruation that it also moves back up into the Fallopian tubes from where it can move into the rest of the abdomen. These misplaced cells attach on to different places in the abdomen and then grow in a similar fashion under the influence of female hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
However endometrial implants have also been found in places outside the abdomen and even more bizarrely have been found in men. The above theory cannot explain this...
Other theories have been proposed. One suggests that endometrial tissue works its way into the lymphatic system (The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins and waste) at the time of our period.
As we go through our period some menstrual fluid can enter blood vessels in the lymphatic system and subsequently is carried around the body. This may explain why endometriosis has been found in various other areas of womens bodies such as the lungs or the brain.
A third suggestion that is made is that certain tissues in the body actually have the ability to transform itself into other tissues. This may explain why in some rare cases endometriosis has been found in the joint tissues of men.
Endometriosis is sometimes referred to as an autoimmune condition as it fulfils a number of the criteria of an autoimmune condition. An autoimmune condition basically means that your body cannot tell the difference between heathy and non healthy tissues and actually starts to attack itself.
In auto immune conditions there are excess immune cells and antibodies produced as our bodies think we are under attack. In women with endometriosis these immune cell and antibody markers are often elevated.
For that reason a healthy immune system is key to managing endometriosis symptoms. The quieter our immune systems are the better. It is key that our immune system can tell the difference between the endometrial tissue in the right place and the misplaced cells that have travelled to the wrong places.
Currently there is no definite causes or cure for endometriosis but by keeping our immune system healthy we can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of endometriosis.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions for me as always please get in touch.