Complaints of pain from menstrual cramps were once considered a form of hysteria, not quite as counterfeit a condition as demonic possession, but close enough for disbelievers. The word hysteria is derived from the Greek word hystero, which means uterus.

At one time, not long ago, it was common practice to ascribe metaphysical qualities to certain organs of the body, such as the heart representing love, the spleen connoting bad temper, and the uterus suggesting emotional problems.

Freud linked hysteria to sexual repression—a concept still revered by some medical doctors who mistakenly ascribe complaints of pain during a normal biological cycle to a woman’s month)y compulsion to deny her femininity and her sexuality. In fact, women in real pain from menstrual cramps may be assailed by far more than a few days of infirmity a month. They may be suffering from endometriosis and their cries for help arc being answered with outdated theories by physicians who do not understand the severity of their pain.

How do cramps occur and why do some women suffer from them over a lifetime while others never experience a single pang of monthly discomfort?

Physicians once pointed to a tight cervix as the probable and primary cause of menstrual cramps. They felt that this tightness obstructed the natural now of blood out of the body. The treatment for a tight cervix—nearly totally out of use today—was a stretching procedure, a so-called dilation of the cervix. A series of surgical rods of increasing diameters were inserted into the uterus through the cervix. This stretching by larger and larger rods was thought to ease the suffering from severe cramps. Unfortunately, when the stretching procedure was halted, the cervix either healed back to its original size or, as a result of the scar tissue created by the treatment, became even tighter? Clearly, cervical stretching was not the answer for relieving or curing menstrual cramps.

Today we are aware that a tightened cervix may be less a structural problem than a chemical one. Cervical tightening as well as menstrual cramps has been traced definitely to hormone levels, most specifically to a third hormone group involved in menstruation: prostaglandins. There is now an undisputed correlation between menstrual cramping and the presence of high levels of prostaglandins in the female body.

Can other symptoms occur as a consequence of endometriosis and is endometriosis a progressive condition

Because some of the symptoms of endometriosis such as pain and infertility can make the sufferer feel tired, miserable and out of control, women may also experience lethargy, malaise, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), or insomnia.
Is endometriosis a progressive condition-No one really knows what happens to endometriosis if it is left untreated because there have been no comprehensive studies conducted to investigate this problem.

Most gynaecologists presume that endometriosis is usually a progressive condition. In other words, it is a condition which — if left untreated — progressively worsens in extent and severity for as long the woman menstruates.

The rate of progression is thought to vary. It is believed that in most women the rate of progression is fairly slow and that the disease gradually worsens over a period of years. In some women the rate of progression is thought to be so slow that their endometriosis does not progress significantly and so they have mild disease for many years. In contrast, it appears that in a few women the rate of progression is rapid and in some cases it may be so rapid that their endometriosis progresses from mild to severe in a matter of months. Some women seem to have spontaneous periods of remission.

It is impossible to predict the likely rate of progression in any particular woman.

Endometriosis recurs frequently following treatment and approximately 50% of women will have a recurrence of their symptoms, regardless of the type of treatment they undertake.

Unfortunately, some women will have a recurrence within months of their treatment as the rate of recurrence is highest in the first twelve months after treatment. Others will have several years of remission.

Women with severe disease or large endometriomas are more likely to have a recurrence of their endometriosis and their length of remission will usually be shorter.

It is not known if recurrences are due to the presence of residual implants and cysts that were not eradicated by the treatment or whether they are due to the deposition of new implants — or a combination of both these factors. According to one researcher, the higher recurrence rates that are seen in the first year following treatment and in women with severe disease would indicate that recurrences are more likely to be due to the growth of residual implants and cysts.
Occasionally, a recurrence of endometriosis may be experienced following menopause if hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is being used, but usually this recurrence can be controlled by altering the dosages used in the HRT.