Endometriosis and weight gain
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. There is no research to conclusively prove that endometriosis directly causes weight gain in women who suffer from the condition. However, these women do frequently find themselves gaining weight. The causes of this weight gain are indirectly related to endometriosis. They are
- Women with endometriosis do experience abdominal bloating. This abdominal bloating occurs when endometrial tissue attaches itself to the gut (gastrointestinal tract) and it can appear like slight weight gain in women.
- Hand swelling is also noticeable in some patients, which looks like weight gain. It may not be endometriosis that has led to weight gain, but rather the treatment for it.
Some medical and surgical treatment options for endometriosis are associated with weight gain. They include
- Hormonal birth control pills have estrogen and progesterone in them. Out of these two hormones, estrogen can trigger weight gain. The mechanism behind this weight gain is twofold. Estrogen can lead to fluid retention (edema) and increased appetite, which may cause women to eat more.
- Hysterectomy is a surgical treatment option for endometriosis. It involves the removal of the uterus and, sometimes, the ovaries as well. After a hysterectomy, women often report weight gain. This occurs due to hormonal changes following a hysterectomy.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is the presence of normal endometrial mucosa (glands and stroma) abnormally implanted in locations other than the uterine cavity. Endometriosis occurs in 6 to 10 percent of women in the US and approximately 4 out of 1,000 women are hospitalized with this condition each year. The common signs and symptoms may include
- Approximately 30 to 40 percent of women with endometriosis will be subfertile and about one-third of women with endometriosis remain asymptomatic.
- Nonspecific pelvic tenderness during menses is the most common finding during physical examination.
- The hallmark finding upon examination is the presence of tender masses along the thickened uterus. Other major signs and symptoms of endometriosis are
- Dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods)
- Heavy or irregular bleeding
- Acute or chronic pelvic pain
- Lower abdominal or back pain
- Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
- Dyschezia (painful or difficult bowel movements, often with cycles of diarrhea and constipation)
- Bloating, nausea and vomiting
- Inguinal pain
- Pain on micturition and/or urinary frequency
- Pain during exercise
- Generalized malaise
- Sleep disturbances
Cause of endometriosis
The exact cause and pathogenesis of endometriosis are unclear. Several theories exist that attempt to explain the condition, although none have been entirely proven. The following are early risk factors that are helpful during the diagnosis of endometriosis
- Family history of endometriosis
- Early age of menarche
- Short menstrual cycles (less than27 days)
- Long duration of menstrual flow (greater than 7 days)
- Heavy bleeding during menses
- Inverse relationship to parity
- Delayed childbearing
- Defects in the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Hypoxia (low blood oxygen levels) and iron deficiency may contribute to the early onset of endometriosis
Prognosis of endometriosis
Endometriosis has been found to resolve spontaneously in one-third of women who are not actively treated. However, it is generally a progressive disease with an unpredictable extent of progression and subsequent morbidity. Although most patients (up to 95 percent in some studies) respond to medical therapy (suppression of ovulation) for decreasing pelvic pain, such therapy is ineffective for the treatment of endometriosis-associated infertility. However, the treatment does preserve the potential for conception. Complications of endometriosis may include
- Severe pelvic pain and subsequent disability
- Anatomic disruption of involved organ systems (e.g., adhesions, ruptured cysts)
To summarize, endometriosis can indirectly cause weight gain. To avoid weight gain after a hysterectomy, adopt lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet and performing exercises. Adopt alternative treatment options to avoid weight gain associated with the use of contraceptive pills. These include alternative hormonal treatments such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone or GnRH analogs or laparoscopic weight loss surgery.
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