While it is typical for the endometrium to thicken and shed amid menstrual cycle, anomalous thickening of the uterine covering is a therapeutic condition called endometrial hyperplasia. The accompanying article gives data on the causes, manifestations, and treatment of thickened endometrium.
The term ‘endometrial hyperplasia’ refers to a condition that is characterized by thickening of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. This abnormal thickening of the uterine lining occurs due to an increased production of the estrogen in the body along with a deficiency of progesterone.
Classification of Endometrial Hyperplasia
Though a majority of cases of endometrial hyperplasia are benign in nature, the risk of endometrial carcinoma can increase if the gland-forming cells of the hyperplastic endometrium undergo certain changes over a period of time. There are two types of endometrial hyperplasia:
- Hyperplasia without atypical changes
- Hyperplasia with atypical changes
In case of atypical changes, the cells undergo changes and become abnormal. This puts the affected individual at a risk of developing womb cancer. These two types are further divided into simple and complex hyperplasia with or without atypical changes.
Estrogen is responsible for building the uterine lining. The maintenance and control of this growth is carried out in presence of progesterone. An overgrowth of uterine lining occurs when there is too much of estrogen and too little of progesterone. Thus, causing thickening of the endometrium. There are various causes of increase in estrogen and decrease in progesterone in the body. These include:
- Estrogen hormone therapy without administration of progesterone
- Missed menstruation cycle
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
The symptoms include changes during menstrual cycle. Other symptoms are as follows:
- Vaginal discharge
- Bleeding between menstrual cycle
- Heavy and prolonged menstrual periods
- Pain in the abdomen
- Pelvic pain
- Excessively dry vagina
- Increase in growth of body hair
- Hot flushes
- Mood swings
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Rapid heart rate
- Vaginal tenderness
Who are at Risk of Developing Endometrial Hyperplasia?
Women who are at risk of developing thickened endometrium are:
- Women who have undergone menopause
- Women who don’t ovulate or have irregular ovulation, that is, late periods
- Obese or overweight women
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome
Endometrial hyperplasia or thickened endometrium can be treated with medication in many cases. Birth control pills or hormone progesterone is usually given for treatment. Most often hysterectomy is advised to get rid of the affected endometrium. Many times hyperplasia may lead to cancer and therefore the doctor may observe you for some time, if you do not undergo hysterectomy. If a woman is exhibiting symptoms associated with a thickened endometrium, a biopsy may be carried out to rule out cancer.
Endometrial Hyperplasia and Pregnancy
Women who are diagnosed with endometriosis worry about getting pregnant. Women who are trying to conceive need to speak to their doctor regarding the treatment options for thickened endometrium. These include dilation and curettage, use of birth control pills that help in shedding the uterine wall, use of Provera and hysteroscopy. It may take time to conceive, thus, one should not stop trying.
There is significant risk involved with endometrial hyperplasia developing into cancer. Speak to your doctor regarding the condition and make sure you follow the suggested treatment to avoid complications.