No one will ever say that being a woman is easy. With all of the health concerns and procedures that we go through, it’s a testament to our strength. Unfortunately, one very painful and all too common health problem that women face is endometriosis (also called “endo”). For many of us, endometriosis is just something that we have to live with routinely. In fact, many women may not even know that they have the condition. However, if there is one major silver lining it is the fact that menopause can help ease up some of these symptoms tremendously (http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.html).
What is endometriosis?
The term “endometriosis” is derived from endometrium. In a healthy woman without endometriosis, this tissue is the material that lines the uterus. However, endometrium can begin to grow in other areas of a woman’s reproductive system including the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as the outside of the uterus. The tissue can even spread to the bladder and bowel. This tissue will actually bleed just like the regular lining of the uterus does during your monthly period. However, the tissue cannot be shed by the body in the same ways so it builds up over time. When it is attached to other parts of the body, this can cause, at a minimum, severe irritation. At its worst, endometriosis can cause excruciating pain and inflammation as well as the development of scar tissue and can hurt a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
Endometriosis and menopause
The good news is that, at least for many women, menopause will bring about a reduction in the problems from endometriosis. Once a woman becomes menopausal, the body stops producing endometrium so that it cannot spread to other areas. The problem, however, is that after thirty to forty years of spreading out, the scarring will still be present. Once you enter menopause, your body will also stop producing estrogen as it previously did. This has been shown to make the deposits of endometrium actually shrink. However, if you take hormone replacement therapy as a means of dealing with the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings, you are reintroducing estrogen into your system which can prevent this from happening.