What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that affects women. It can cause pain in the pelvis and abdomen and may also cause infertility. The tissue is similar to the lining of the inside of the uterus however it is found outside it. The abnormally implanted tissue continues to react to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle resulting in bleeding and scar formation.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Although some women with endometriosis have no symptoms, some experience pain in the lower part of the belly which can occur:
- Before or during monthly periods
- Between monthly periods
- During or after sex
- When urinating or having a bowel movement (often during monthly periods)
Other symptoms of endometriosis can include:
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Growths on the ovaries that a doctor can feel during an exam
Who Is Affected By Endometriosis?
Women in their reproductive years, most women diagnosed with endometriosis are between the ages of 25 and 35. Endometriosis is more common in Caucasian women.
Is There a Test for Endometriosis?
No. But your doctor or nurse might suspect you have it by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam.
The only way to know for sure if you have endometriosis is for a doctor to do laparoscopic surgery to look for endometriosis tissue outside the uterus. It is a minimally invasive procedure, usually performed under general anesthesia. Patients are normally discharged within 24 hours of surgery. With surgery the abnormal tissue can be removed and further examined.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis can be treated in different ways. The right treatment for you will depend on your symptoms and on whether you want to be able to get pregnant in the future.
Medical Treatments for Endometriosis
- Pain medicines: Medication can help manage the pain caused by endometriosis, but these medicines do not make the endometriosis go away.
- Birth control medicines: Certain birth control medicines can help reduce pain symptoms. This treatment is not recommended for women who are trying to get pregnant.
- Hormones that stop monthly periods: Most doctors do not recommend that women use this treatment for longer than 1 year due to potential side effects. This treatment is not recommended for women who are trying to get pregnant.
Surgical Treatment for Endometriosis
- Laparoscopy: This procedure involves a surgeon making a small incision in the belly and placing a tube with a camera inside the body to find and remove endometriosis tissue.
- Hysterectomy: This is a surgical procedure to remove a woman's uterus. Sometimes, the surgeon will also remove the ovaries and tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus (fallopian tubes). A woman cannot get pregnant after her uterus is removed.