Endometriosis: Treatments, Causes and Tens Machines
By Med-Fit UK Content Team . Last Updated Tuesday, 26th September 2023
What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis, pronounced as en-doe-me-tree-O-sis, is a painful disorder characterized by the abnormal growth of tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, outside the confines of the uterus.
The typical areas affected by this condition include the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the lining of the pelvis. Occasionally, the endometrial-like tissue can extend beyond the usual pelvic organ locations.
In this condition, the tissue resembling the endometrial lining within the uterus behaves similarly to the endometrial tissue, thickening, breaking down, and bleeding during each menstrual cycle.
However, due to its location outside the uterus, this tissue becomes trapped within the body. In cases where the ovaries are involved, cysts known as endometriomas may form. This can lead to irritation of the surrounding tissue, eventually resulting in the development of scar tissue and adhesions—fibrous bands that may cause the pelvic tissues and organs to adhere to each other.
Endometriosis manifests as the growth of tissue that closely resembles the lining of the uterus, beyond the confines of the uterus, causing pelvic pain and potential fertility issues. It can commence from a person's initial menstrual cycle and persist until menopause.
This disorder triggers inflammation and the formation of scar tissue in the pelvic region and, less frequently, in other parts of the body. Despite ongoing research, the exact origins of endometriosis remain elusive, and there is currently no established method to prevent or cure it. Nevertheless, symptoms can be effectively managed using medications or, in specific cases, surgical interventions.
Endometriosis instigates a chronic inflammatory response that may culminate in the creation of scar tissue, termed adhesions or fibrosis, within the pelvic area and, on rare occasions, in other regions of the body. Various lesion types have been identified, including superficial endometriosis primarily found on the pelvic peritoneum, cystic ovarian endometriosis (endometrioma) within the ovaries, and deep endometriosis located in the recto-vaginal septum, bladder, and bowel. In exceptional cases, endometriosis has been identified outside the pelvic region.
Endometriosis is a condition that frequently results in intense pelvic pain, particularly during menstrual cycles. Some individuals may also experience discomfort during sexual intercourse or while using the restroom. Additionally, fertility challenges can be a concern for some.
Notably, not everyone with endometriosis displays noticeable symptoms.
For those who do, a prevalent indication is pain in the lower abdominal region (pelvis). This pain often intensifies:
- During menstrual periods
- During or after sexual activity
- During urination or bowel movements
Further symptoms may encompass chronic pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular bleeding between periods, fertility difficulties, feelings of bloating or nausea, fatigue, as well as emotional challenges like depression or anxiety. It's important to note that symptoms may ameliorate after menopause, although this is not always the case.
The manifestations of endometriosis vary widely and can be diverse, making diagnosis challenging for healthcare professionals. Some individuals experiencing symptoms may not even be cognizant of their condition.
Tens Machines for Endometriosis
TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, devices are purpose-built to alleviate pain by utilizing mild electrical currents. These currents, generated by a TENS machine, are directed through the body via specialized TENS electrodes, also known as sticky pads, adhered to the skin.
These electrodes establish a connection between the skin and the TENS machine through wires, although some TENS units offer wireless or Bluetooth-compatible electrodes. Once strategically placed on the targeted areas of treatment, the TENS machine is activated, initiating a focused current directed at the sensory nerve endings. These nerve endings are chosen due to their direct connection to the brain.
Upon activation, the TENS unit signals the brain to release endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. These endorphins act as a remedy, alleviating the user's pain, akin to a prescription drug, and notably, without any associated side effects.
Consequently, TENS machines have evolved into a preferred choice for individuals dealing with various conditions, particularly aiding in the reduction of nerve pain, muscle inflammation, and discomfort stemming from sciatica, arthritis and even tens for endometriosis
You can find out more about what a tens machine is and how they work
- by clicking on the link and finding out more.
However tens machines for endometriosis are becoming far more common, this is due to TENS being able to assist in pain relief for those who struggle with this condition. Specific Tens machines have been most popular, the wireless more so than the wired versions, however as we’ve seen - our premier tens machine
has seen the most interest and purchases, with very positive results.
Most customers place the tens electrodes just below the belly button. When they switch the tens device on, it's usually at a lower setting and gradually working their way up to find the optimal setting, as it’s more customer preference at this point.
Endometriosis, a multifaceted ailment, impacts women worldwide starting from their first menstrual cycle (menarche) through menopause, transcending both ethnic backgrounds and societal standings.
Numerous and varied factors are believed to contribute to its emergence. Presently, endometriosis is thought to originate from several potential causes:
- Retrograde menstruation: During menstrual periods, menstrual blood carrying endometrial cells flows in a backward direction through the fallopian tubes into the pelvic cavity. These endometrial-like cells can settle and thrive outside the uterus.
- Cellular metaplasia: This involves cells undergoing a transformation from one type to another. Cells outside the uterus alter their structure, resembling endometrial cells and commence growth.
- Stem cells: Some cases suggest that stem cells may be the source of the disease, disseminating throughout the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic vessels.
Several other factors may also affect the growth or persistence of endometrial tissue in atypical locations. Notably, estrogen plays a significant role, heightening inflammation, growth, and pain associated with endometriosis. However, the relationship between estrogen and endometriosis is intricate, as the absence of estrogen does not always equate to the absence of endometriosis.
While the exact cause of endometriosis remains elusive, several theories attempt to elucidate its origin:
- Blood or lymph system transport: Endometrial tissues can migrate to various parts of the body through the blood or lymphatic systems, akin to how cancer cells spread.
- Direct transplantation: Endometrial cells might attach themselves to the walls of the abdomen or other regions of the body after surgical procedures, such as a C-section or hysterectomy.
- Genetics: Endometriosis appears to affect certain families more frequently, suggesting a potential genetic link.
- Reverse menstruation: Instead of exiting the body during menstruation, endometrial tissue travels into the fallopian tubes and the abdomen.
- Transformation: Cells in different areas of the body may transform into endometrial-like cells and initiate growth outside the endometrium.
A thorough assessment of menstrual symptoms and chronic pelvic pain forms the foundation for suspecting endometriosis. Presently, although multiple screening tools and tests have been proposed and tested, none have gained validation to precisely identify or predict individuals or populations most likely to have the disease.
The symptoms of endometriosis often imitate those of other conditions, contributing to diagnostic delays. Detection of ovarian endometrioma, adhesions, and deep nodular forms of the disease often necessitates the use of ultrasonography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Histologic verification, typically following surgical or laparoscopic visualization, proves useful in confirming the diagnosis, especially for the more common superficial lesions. Importantly, the need for histologic or laparoscopic confirmation should not impede the initiation of empirical medical treatment.
The process of being diagnosed with endometriosis can be time-consuming. Its symptoms closely resemble those of common conditions, emphasizing the significance of providing comprehensive information to the doctor.
The definitive diagnostic method for endometriosis involves laparoscopy, wherein a camera (a laparoscope) is introduced into the pelvis through a small incision near the navel. The surgeon employs this camera to examine the pelvic organs and look for signs of endometriosis. If endometriosis is confirmed, it may be treated or removed for further examination during the laparoscopy.
It's crucial to understand that scans, blood tests, and internal examinations are not conclusive diagnostic methods for endometriosis. A normal outcome from these tests does not rule out the possibility of having endometriosis.
Due to the diverse ways endometriosis manifests and the overlap of symptoms with other conditions, diagnosis can be challenging and frequently delayed. Recent research indicates an average delay of 7.5 years between the initial consultation with a doctor regarding symptoms and receiving a confirmed diagnosis for women with endometriosis.
Currently, there's no definitive cure for endometriosis, but a range of treatments can effectively manage its symptoms. Treatment options are tailored based on symptom severity and the desire for pregnancy.
These treatments include:
- Pain Management: Painkillers like ibuprofen and paracetamol are commonly used to alleviate pain associated with endometriosis.
- Hormonal Medications and Contraceptives: Hormone medicines and contraceptives such as the combined pill, contraceptive patch, intrauterine system (IUS), contraceptive implant, and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues can help manage pain. However, these may not be suitable for those aiming to conceive.
- Surgical Intervention: Surgery can involve removing endometriosis tissue patches or affected organs, like part of the colon, appendix, or womb (hysterectomy). Laparoscopic surgery, employing a small camera, is often utilized for minimally invasive procedures.
- Fertility Treatment: Fertility medicines and procedures are utilized for individuals facing difficulty conceiving due to endometriosis.
- Awareness and Emotional Support: Raising awareness is crucial for early diagnosis, allowing for timely treatment that can slow or halt disease progression. Local patient support groups provide additional advice and emotional assistance.
- Complementary Treatments: Physiotherapy and complementary treatments can be beneficial, particularly for managing secondary changes in the pelvis and chronic pelvic pain.
Treatment choices are individualized, considering effectiveness, side effects, long-term safety, costs, and availability. It's important to note that hormonal management options may not be suitable for those seeking to become pregnant, as they can affect ovulation. Additionally, certain treatments may be associated with side effects, and symptoms might reoccur after treatment cessation.
Successful reduction of pain symptoms and enhanced pregnancy rates through surgery depend on the extent of the disease. Pelvic floor muscle abnormalities can contribute to chronic pelvic pain, and addressing them through physiotherapy and complementary treatments may provide relief. When infertility is due to endometriosis, various treatment options like laparoscopic surgical removal, ovarian stimulation with intrauterine insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be considered, with success rates varying based on individual circumstance.