Do you remember way back in elementary school when they split up the boys and girls to talk about the miracle of puberty? I do. I remember a few things about it vividly. My first impressions I got from learning about my body were as follows:
1. Sex must be disgusting. I mean it must make a lot of gross squishy noises. I decided to make sure to bring a tape player on my honeymoon (the tape player might be the funniest part of this conclusion) ((kids, if you don’t know what a tape player is, see below)).
2. Women have some serious design flaws.
And I’m thinking I wasn’t the only one to see this.
I mean just look at this:
So all my eggs are in my ovaries, right? Okay. And your eggs go down your fallopian tubes and– okay you can just stop right there, what? Do you SEE the gap between the ovary and those freaky tube openings? You’re telling me my egg’s going to Evil Kenevil jump into the tube once a month?
Well, apparently that works out just fine, but I was correct in the flaw I spotted. I was just wrong about the consequences.
See, in sixth grade they didn’t spend a lot of time taking about endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, except to mention that we shed it once a month. I didn’t have a period until I was sixteen years old so that was just cloud-talk* to me. But, had I thought more about the lining than I did about the daredevil eggs, I think I would have picked up on it.
If the lining of your uterus slips out once a month, what’s stopping it from slipping out of that HUGE GAP between the tubes and the ovaries?
The answer is nothing. Most women do leak a little of their uterus lining out into their body.
But wait! That’s what endometriosis is!
So do all women have endometriosis?
Well there isn’t really a way for us to say #yesallwomen here. But data does show that most women have this condition. But pay attention to the word “condition.”
To use a Texan example, we have the “conditions” for tornadoes a lot here. Hot air and cold air currents collide, the air gets humid, the clouds turn green-yellow and sometimes they even swirl about a bit. Conditions are often perfect for a tornado but then no tornado comes.
Endometriosis is the tornado itself (ignore that Texans kind of enjoy tornadoes, endo is worse than an actual tornado, it’s not a perfect metaphor). The illness doesn’t happen all the time, even though conditions are often perfect for it. Most women have endometrium outside of their uterus.
So why do some women have pain enough to warrant surgery while some are fine? Doctors don’t know. I don’t know either. But I’ve heard some good ideas.
Maybe some women’s immune systems can’t fight off/clean up the misplaced endometrium. Endometriosis is technically an autoimmune disease. Without an immune system that can fight off the harmful cells, they grow and spread like cancer.
Or maybe women with endometriosis simply have so much endometrium outside their uterus that even a healthy immune system can’t fight it all off. Maybe their tubes have a particularly large stupid gap, or maybe their uterus is tilted so that more endometrium leaks out the wrong way. This also explains a bit about how c-section can cause endometriosis by spilling more of the lining into new places, ovewhelming the immune system.
Maybe it’s a combination of both.
I find all this fascinating, I hope you do too because I’m not really going anywhere with it, I just like to share things I learn. It’s a good thing I find endo so interesting, because it’s decided to be a big part of my life. But hopefully these little factoid posts help someone understand a bit more about what’s going on in their bodies, because if you have to live in a body you might as well know how it works. The more you know about how you work, the better you can live, right?
And if you’re a woman without endometriosis, remember to cross your heart and thank the good Lord that your body can manage this baffling design He’s created. I mean I’m sure I’d be a sucky God but sometimes I do scratch my head over His work.
*If you get the reference to cloud talk then I love you.