How MMJ Health can help Patients with Endometriosis
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis, also known as “endo”, gets its name from the word endometrium or the tissue that normally lines the uterus or womb. Endometriosis is what happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) grows outside of the uterus and other areas of the body where it does not belong. These growths are called endometrial implants.
It is mostly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissues that hold the uterus in place and the outer surface of the uterus. Other sites may include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder or rectum. Rarely endometriosis may appear in other soft tissue areas of the body, like the lungs, brain and skin.
It is a common health problem for women, affecting more than 11% of American women between ages 15 – 44. However it is most common in women in their 30s and 40s and can affect the chances of becoming pregnant.
What causes Endometriosis?
There is no exact cause for endometriosis. Doctors do not know what causes the disease yet. However, researchers are studying the disease and looking for answers.
Possible causes may include:
- Problems with menstrual period flow: Retrograde menstrual flow is the most likely cause of endometriosis. Some of the tissue shed during the period flows through the fallopian tube into other areas of the body, such as the pelvis.
- Genetic factors: Due to the fact that endometriosis runs in families, it could be an inherited genetic condition.
- Immune system disorder: A problem with your immune system may make it hard for the system to find and destroy endometrial tissue that is growing in a place it shouldn’t. Immune system disorders and certain cancers are more common in women that are diagnosed with endometriosis.
- Hormones: The hormone estrogen has been found to possibly promote endometriosis. Research is being conducted to find if the disease could be caused by an abnormality within the body’s hormone system.
Surgery: It is possible that during surgery like a Caesarean (C-section) or hysterectomy, endometrial tissue was accidentally picked up and moved by mistake. For example, endometrial tissue has been found in abdominal scars.
Stages of Endometriosis
Experts group endometriosis by stage and type. This is based on location, depth, size and amount of the tissue. To determine a stage, doctors assign points according to the spread of the endometrial tissue, it’s depth and areas of the body that are affected. They typically use the most popular scale from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
- Stage 1 or Minimal: There are a few small implants, small wounds or lesions. They may be found on organs or the tissue lining the pelvis or abdomen and there is little or no scar tissue.
- Stage 2 or Mild: More implants found than in stage 1 that are deeper in the tissue, and there may be some scar tissue.
- Stage 3 or Moderate: There are many deep implants. There may also be cysts present on one or both ovaries and thick bands of scar tissue called adhesions are visible to the doctor.
Stage 4 or Severe: The most widespread stage. There are many deep implants and thick adhesions. There are also large cysts on one or both ovaries.
Types of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is also grouped by what area of the pelvis or abdomen it affects. The type of endometriosis you have, could play a role in symptoms and treatment. There are four main types:
- Superficial peritoneal endometriosis: In this type, the endometrial tissue attaches itself to the peritoneum. This is the tissue that lines your abdomen, pelvis, and covers many organs, this is the least severe form.
- Endometriomas: These are dark, fluid-filled cysts that vary in size and may appear in different parts of the pelvis or abdomen. They are most commonly seen on the ovaries.
- Deeply infiltrating endometriosis: This type of endometriosis invides organs within or outside the pelvic cavity. The endometrial tissue may invade ovaries, the rectum, the bladder and bowels. Rarely, a large amount of scar tissue may bond to the organs so they become stuck in place, but this condition only affects 1-5% of people with endometriosis.
- Abdominal wall endometriosis: In some cases, endometrial tissue may grow on the abdominal wall. The cells may attach to a surgical incision, like one from a c-section or other abdominal surgery.
If you are affected with any stage of type of endometriosis, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to find out your treatment options today.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
While pain is the most common symptom, women that experience endometriosis may have many different kinds of pain. While endometriosis growths are benign, they can still cause problems. The growths may swell and bleed in the same way the lining of the uterus does each month – during the menstrual period. This can cause swelling and pain where the cysts or tissue grows because it bleeds in an area where it cannot properly escape the body.
The growths may also continue to expand and cause issues like:
- Blocking fallopian tubes when growths cover or grow into the ovaries. Trapped blood in an ovary can form cysts.
- Scar tissue and adhesions that cause pelvic pain and may inhibit pregnancy
- Intestinal and Bladder problems
Symptoms may include:
- Heavy periods
- Intestinal pain
- Pain during sex
- Blood in stool or urine
- Pain during bowel movements and urination
- Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
- Digestive problems (especially during menstrual periods)
- Painful menstrual cramping that may get worse over time
- Chronic pain in the pelvis and lower back, usually during menstruation
In many cases the type and stage of endometriosis you have may not affect your symptoms. For example, those with stage 1 may experience worse pain than those with stage 4. The exception is infertility, women affected with stage 3 or 4 endometriosis are more likely to have trouble getting pregnant than those with stage 1 or 2. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Endometriosis is a common health problem among women. At least 11% of women in the United States alone have endometriosis and about 176 million women worldwide. However, since it is common it may also be easier for doctors to diagnose. If you notice symptoms, speak with your doctor about them so they can help you get diagnosed.
Pelvic exam: This may be performed to look for large cysts or areas that have scar tissue near the uterus.
Imaging test: An ultrasound or an MRI may be used to check for ovarian cysts on reproductive organs.
Medicine: If no signs of cysts are found during an imaging test, your doctor may prescribe hormonal birth control to help lessen pelvic pain during your period or
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists to block the menstrual cycle and lower the amount of estrogen your body makes to prevent pelvic pain.
Laparoscopy: A type of surgery used to look into your pelvic area to see endometriosis tissue.
Please see a licensed doctor in order to get properly diagnosed with endometriosis. MMJ Health has professional and knowledgeable Medical Marijuana Specialists that can create a treatment plan that works for your lifestyle.
What can a Florida Medical Marijuana clinic do for Endometriosis?
There are several common treatment options available like hormonal birth control, analgesic pain relievers and anti-inflammation medications, but if they don’t work for you medical marijuana may be a good alternative option when looking to help manage any symptoms of chronic pain caused by endometriosis.
While medical marijuana for endometriosis is not a cure, it may help to reduce pain effectively due to its pain management and anti-inflammatory properties.
Under Amendment 2, endometriosis may be a qualifying condition for a medical marijuana card in Florida.
If you are currently suffering from endometriosis and would like to talk to our certified Florida Marijuana doctors, you can book an appointment and come to any of our 10 convenient MMJ Health locations.