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Cause of Endometriosis: Retrograde Menstruation

What is the cause of endometriosis?

In short, there is no known direct cause of endometriosis, and there is not one theory that explains its origins. Widely respected colleagues, surgeons, and credible researchers may have completely different opinions on causes of it.

What is Retrograde Menstruation?

During normal menstruation, the female body naturally sheds the endometrium (the clinical term for the lining of the uterus), which is the tissue that grows every month to prepare for the implantation of a fertilized egg. In some women and girls, these menstrual fluids leak back into the body through the natural openings in the fallopian tubes and implant in areas outside of the uterus, thus creating an abnormal growth of cells (endometrial cells). This back flow of menstrual debris is termed, "retrograde menstruation."

Retrograde menstruation lead to worsening endometriosisWhat makes a woman subject to retrograde menstruation?

Although this has not been confirmed for all cases of endometriosis, some women may have an anatomically different uterus than others that facilitates this retrograde menstruation. Uterine abnormalities of congenital origin (that is, from birth) are also associated with an increased incidence of endometriosis.

How can Retrograde menstruation lead to worsening endometriosis

As a woman’s hormones change during her menstrual cycle, endometriosis implants (also referred to as lesions or nodules) caused by retrograde menstruation and ovarian development and leakage, respond to those hormonal fluctuations. These lesions grow, menstruate, and shed along with the normal lining of the uterus. Unfortunately, unlike normal endometrium that naturally leaves the body, when these implants shed there is no way for the material to exit the body, so it continues to build up.

Retrograde menstruation brings blood into the ovaries through the fallopian tubes, which then goes on to accumulate in other parts of the body. Here, you can see the blood both flow out to other areas of the abdominal/pelvic cavity, as well as form an ovarian endometrioma that also leaks into other areas of the body.

What Symptoms can Endometriosis by Retrograde Menstruation cause?

The disease causes internal bleeding, inflammation, and expression of irritating enzymes. It can implant in the bowel, bladder, intestines, and other areas of the pelvic cavity, causing severe pain, the formation of scar tissue, adhesions (fibrous bands of dense tissue), and can cause the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and root to existing nerves. This can lead to chronic pelvic pain, severe cramping, bowel or urinary disorders, painful intercourse and even infertility.

If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, it could be due to a high rate of retrograde menstruation, which means that endometriosis may be on its way or has already developed. The most important step to treating your symptoms is through overcoming the taboo that surrounds the female period and in turn a disease such as endometriosis. However, we are always open to talking with patients and do our best in helping them find the cause of their discomfort.

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