What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis affects millions of women around the world. It causes pain and discomfort, and for a significant number of women, it can also lead to infertility.
In endometriosis, the tissue that would normally line the interior of the uterus instead forms on the outside. It can form on the uterus itself, around the fallopian tubes, and in other areas. It can also be present around other organs in the body. Most women with this condition experience pain and discomfort, as well as menstrual abnormality. However, some women experience no symptoms at all.
What Causes Endometriosis?
The underlying cause of endometriosis is not known. However, there are several theories, and there are many factors involved. One possible cause is what’s called retrograde menstruation – a condition in which blood and uterine tissue moves out of the fallopian tube and into the abdominal cavity. There, it multiplies and forms around other structures.
Another theory is that it is actually a type of cellular mutation, in which cells outside the uterus become uterine lining cells. Yet another theory is that uterine lining cells migrate outward through the lymph system or blood and reach other organs in the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain during a period. This is because bleeding happens not only within the uterus, but outside of it, wherever that tissue might be found. When the tissue bleeds, the blood can come into contact with other organs, and this can cause irritation and swelling. Other symptoms can include pain during intercourse, excessive bleeding during periods, prolonged bleeding after periods, and pain with urination or with bowel movements.
What Are the Treatments for Endometriosis?
There are quite a few potential treatments that can help women live longer, healthier, happier lives with endometriosis. One of those is excision surgery. During this procedure, the uterine tissue outside the uterus is located and then excised (removed). In some surgeries, lesions within the uterus may be burned away, and in others, scar tissue may be removed so that fallopian tubes are allowed to go back to their natural position. Unfortunately, intraabdominal surgery is frequently associated with formation of adhesions inside the abdominal cavity, and this may be as or more disabling that the very endometriosis that was surgically treated.
Another option is hormone therapy, which is frequently unsafe. Some medical professionals prefer a more conservative approach, such as managing the condition with pain relievers, which offers more comfort, but does little to actually address the cause of the pain. As we know now, long term use of opioid pain medications actually promotes pain chronicity and should be avoided by any means. Nonsteroidal pain medications (such as ibuprofen) have their own dangers and are not safe either. Stem cell therapy is a promising alternative treatment currently being studied.
How Can Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy Help?
The key to understanding stem cell therapy for endometriosis is to understand how dynamic the endometrium is in the first place. This tissue is subject to significant growth and retraction patterns with each menstrual cycle. That cycle is only possible due to the regenerative effects of stem cells within the endometrium.
Stem cells are the body’s healers. They’re the regenerators that help build new tissue. They can also transform from stem cell into another type of cell or tissue. In essence, stem cells are responsible for regenerating all the cells within the uterine system, including stromal cells, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and more, every month.