What is endometriosis? How common is it? What causes it? And what famous people are living with this condition?
The Mayo Clinic defines endometriosis as a “painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant)”. Sounds bad, no? It reportedly causes pain especially during a woman’s period. And it can lead to fertility problems.
The cause of endometriosis has not been established. According to the UK NHS (nhs.co.uk), the following theories are being advanced as the possible cause of this health condition: retrograde menstruation (where the womb lining or endometrium flows backwards through the fallopian tubes and into the abdomen instead of leaving the body as a period); spread through the bloodstream or lymphatic system (whereby endometriosis cells are believed to get into the bloodstream or lymphatic system); problems with the immune system; genetics; and environmental causes.
Celebrities With Endometriosis. Here’s a list of famous people who are living with endometriosis and what they are saying about their condition:
Padma Lakshmi, TV host for Top Chef: “It’s a disease that affects one in 10 women, and it is also a disease that affects 176 million women every year. It’s not curable, but it is totally treatable and manageable with early diagnosis and regular check-ups. Only your gynecologist can you tell you if you have it by doing a pelvic exam, and in some cases, biopsies or through cultures or testing for it. A lot of women just go untreated, or undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed.
“Endometriosis is when the uterine lining does not get dispelled every month from the body with the woman’s period, as is the case in a normal functioning woman. So that’s when you get all these other symptoms like cramps, headache, backache and digestive problems. It’s also one of the leading causes of infertility in women, and that was one reason we were galvanized to do something about it. Many women in our generation are working, and are deferring motherhood, or just for whatever reason, having children later. If you’ve never explored the possibility of having a child until your late 30s or even early 40s, you may be waiting to late.
“Some people who have endometriosis don’t have symptoms, and it’s not until they begin to explore their own fertility that they find out that they’ve had this problem. It’s [endometriosis] often at a very late stage, and the problem is much more advanced than it would have been if early detection had taken place.
“I had had five operations, and the first two I was misdiagnosed. I had access to the best medical care in this country; I had screen actor’s guild insurance. My surgeries were at Mount Sinai and at Cedar Sinai, and I have no doubt that the doctor’s who treated me had every intention of giving me the best care possible. They just were not knowledgeable enough, because it wasn’t at the forefront of their minds.
“You know, when you’re in medical school, there is like one minor fleeting reference to endometriosis, and it’s not really covered. It should be covered for any doctor working in the body cavity, because endometriosis is something that spreads, and it can cause all kinds of digestive problems, problems in the liver, problems in the spleen, and problems in the kidneys. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can often misdiagnose it just as some scar tissue or overproduction of certain kinds of other tissue. It just gets misdiagnosed.
“I didn’t know how much pain I was in until I wasn’t in pain anymore. I used to be bedridden for four or five days, sometime with a heating pad, every month. I would miss work and family engagements. My hormones were crazy. I had backache, lower backache, headache and bloating. Everyone just thought that I had really bad periods, but this was much more than a really bad period. When you’re told by the women in your family, “Oh yeah, I had really bad periods too, you’ll probably have it,” you just think, this is my lot in life. You know, pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.” [via nbcnews.com]