Whether you’ve had fairly pain free menstrual cycles or experienced a lot of pain with them, chances are you’ve heard of Endometriosis. While it’s a fairly common health problem for women, that doesn’t make the idea of having it any more likable. And we understand having or worrying about having this disease can be troubling, so today we’re going to talk more about the symptoms, treatments, and general understanding of Endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis, also called “Endo,” is a condition in which tissue that forms the lining of the uterus grows in places in the body other than the uterus. This tissue is most commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the outer surface of the uterus. While there are other places this tissue can be found it is far less common. To see the complete list, click here.
It is most frequently diagnosed in women in their 30’s and 40’s, however, it is estimated that around 10%, or 176 million, women are affected by Endo.
Watch as Dr. Skorberg talks more about endometriosis:
What Are the Symptoms?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is chronic (long-term) pelvic pain, especially just before and during the menstrual period. But what makes it more unpredictable and irritating is that this pain can also occur outside the window of the menstrual cycle.
Other symptoms of endo may include:
- Pain during sex
- If endometriosis is present on the bowel, pain during bowel movements can occur
- If it affects the bladder, pain may be felt during urination.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding is another symptom of endometriosis
In about 30-40% of cases, women with endometriosis may not be able to have children. But, The severity of your pain does not necessarily indicate the severity of your condition. Some women with endometriosis have no pain at all and only find out they do if they can’t get pregnant. Sometimes, pregnancy even relieves the symptoms.
How is it Diagnosed?
The first step in getting diagnosed with endometriosis is to recognize you may be having symptoms, and talking to your doctor about them. Many women remain undiagnosed and don’t receive any treatment for it.
If you suspect you might have endo, it will be diagnosed via laparoscopy. A laparoscope is a thin instrument with a light source and a lens. A small cut is made near the navel, and it is then inserted so that the doctor can see any signs of endometriosis. If signs of the tissue are present, the doctor will take a biopsy (a small piece of the tissue) to be examined.
There are other tests that a Gynecologist can perform, like an ultrasound or regular gynecological exam, but these can’t give definitive diagnoses.
How is it Treated?
While there is no known cure for endo, there are ways to treat it. Treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of the disease, your symptoms, and whether you want to have children.
It may be treated with medication, hormones, surgery, or all three. Although treatments may relieve pain and infertility for a time, symptoms may come back after treatment.
Want to learn more about endometriosis? Here are some other resources with information on the symptoms, causes, treatments, and more.
Adhesion: Scarring that binds together the surfaces of tissues.
Endometrioma: An ovarian cyst formed from endometrial tissue.
Hormones: Substances produced by the body to control the functions of various organs. Infertility: A condition in which a couple has been unable to get pregnant after 12 months without the use of any form of birth control.
Laparoscopy: A surgical procedure in which a slender, light-transmitting instrument, the laparoscope, is used to view the pelvic organs or perform surgery.
Laparotomy: A surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen.
Pelvic exam: A physical examination of a woman’s reproductive organs.
Progestin: A synthetic form of progesterone that is similar to the hormone produced naturally by the body.
Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.
If you have questions about endometriosis or think that you may be experiencing the symptoms, please get in touch with us. We will be happy to talk to you about the steps for making an appointment and/or diagnosis. You can also click the link below to learn more about our other OB-GYN services or fill out the form to request an appointment.
Originally Published October 12, 2012. Updated November 3, 2018