The lining of your uterus is called the endometrium. In endometriosis, the tissue of this lining begins to grow outside the walls of your uterus. It can spread to your ovaries, pelvis area, and fallopian tubes.
In a healthy uterus, endometrial tissue breaks down and is shed with each menstrual cycle. However, when this tissue is outside of the uterus, it breaks down but does not exit the body with the normal menstrual cycle.
That “trapped” tissue can cause chocolate cysts (patches of tissue that become implanted in the ovaries), scar tissue, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, and fertility problems.
Several factors contribute to the development of endometriosis. You might be more at risk if you:
While it’s not always entirely clear what causes endometriosis, a profile of your symptoms can usually enable your physician to make an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms of endometriosis may include:
It’s important to note that you may experience intense pain or low-grade pain if you have endometriosis, as each patient is different. Alternately, you may not have any symptoms at all.
To get an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, your physician performs one or several tests, which may include an ultrasound, a pelvic exam, or a laparoscopy — a procedure that allows her to look inside your uterus using a tiny camera.
Once diagnosed, endometriosis is treated in several different ways, including:
Your physician may prescribe you pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs to help with cramping, as well as hormone therapy drugs to regulate the menstrual cycle and slow the growth of endometrial tissue.
If you are trying to conceive, your physician may recommend a surgical procedure to remove excess endometrial tissue while still retaining the health of your ovaries and uterus. In some cases, this can be a simple laparoscopic surgery. In other situations, you may explore in vitro fertilization to help you achieve pregnancy.
If you’re past your pregnancy years or do not wish to become pregnant, your physician might also discuss the option of removing the ovaries and/or the uterus. That's often the last resort, but it can be helpful and necessary for some patients, especially those who have failed medical treatments or cannot tolerate hormonal therapy.
Contact Capital Women’s Care today to speak with a qualified physician.