Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Other Autoimmune Disease

I thought I should probably do a post on endometriosis because it is something I have known I have had since I was about 15 years old and was once a huge part of my life. According to the Mayo Clinic
Endometriosis is a disorder of the female reproductive system. In endometriosis, the endometrium, which normally lines your uterus, grows in other places as well. Most often, this growth is on your fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining your pelvis.

When endometrial tissue is located elsewhere in your body, it continues to act as it normally would during a menstrual cycle: It thickens, breaks down and bleeds each month. Because there's nowhere for the blood from this displaced tissue to exit your body, it becomes trapped, and surrounding tissue can become irritated.

Trapped blood may lead to cysts, scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together. This process can cause pelvic pain, especially during your period. Endometriosis also can cause fertility problems.

I was 10 years old when I got my first period and started having problems when I was 11. I distinctly remember one day trying to walk to my grandmother's house after school and having to lay down in the middle of the street because I was in so much pain. I also bled very heavily for often longer than a week. Eventually the pain became chronic. I was 2004, just before I turned 16, that I had my first laparoscopy. They found endometriosis on the lower part of my colon and started me on injections of a medicine called Lupron Depot. About two years later I had another laparoscopy.

I no longer have chronic pain from my endometriosis and I do not take the Lupron anymore. I am on a medicine called Aygestin and it makes it so I do not get periods.

There is some debate as to the cause and nature of endometriosis. There seems to be some consensus, however, that it is an autoimmune disease. I even found this link here that links endometriosis and the lupus anticoagulant antibody and the antinuclear antibodies. As far as I know I do not have the anticoagulant antibody, but I do know that I have the antinuclear antibodies.

It is really interesting to me how once you have one autoimmune disease it puts you at risk for more. If I pursue a career in medicine, which seems more and more likely, this is something I hope to study further. I will post later all about how indecisive I am about my future career.

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