The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium, which is composed of tissues (or endometrial cells). When the cells end up outside of the uterus, it results in a painful disorder called endometriosis. This condition affects the tissue lining of the pelvis, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries.
Painful periods are the most common symptom associated with endometriosis. The cramping is more severe than normal menstrual cramps. The pain is located in the pelvis, abdomen and/or lower back. The following are additional symptoms you may experience:
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during urination
- Pain during bowel movements
- Excessive bleeding during periods
These symptoms occur before, during and after a woman’s monthly cycle.
Do you have heavy menses lasting seven or more days? Does an immediate family member have endometriosis? Are you childless (i.e., haven’t given birth)? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you’re more susceptible to endometriosis. Other risk factors include:
- Low body mass index
- Short menstrual cycles
- Early-onset of menses
- Abnormal reproductive tract
- Excessive estrogen levels
Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure for diagnosing endometriosis. The laparoscope is a telescopic device with a camera on the end that pinpoints where the endometrial cells (or lesions) are located. This is the most effective diagnostic method. In rare cases, a physician can diagnose the condition during a routine pelvic exam.
There are multiple treatment options available. Since there’s no cure for endometriosis, a trial-and-error approach is usually required. The first step is pain management using non-surgical methods like the following:
- Physical therapy
Some women respond well to hormonal treatments where they are prescribed birth control pills.
In some cases, surgery is the best route. The various surgical interventions include excision, laser, and cautery. The last resort is a hysterectomy.
Endometriosis and Infertility
Nearly 50% of women diagnosed with endometriosis have difficulty conceiving a child. However, the condition doesn’t make pregnancy impossible. Women who have mild to moderate endometriosis are encouraged to have children earlier rather than later in life because the condition usually worsens over time.
Endometriosis and Cancer
What happens if your endometriosis goes untreated? The condition may contribute to ovarian cancer. There’s also another cancer called adenocarcinoma that’s linked to this reproductive disorder. Although the likelihood of developing these cancers is minimal, endometriosis does increase the risk factor.
Let Go of the Pain
You don’t have to live with endometriosis. Let us help you find the right treatment plan. Our highly trained staff is compassionate and supportive. Here at Peoria Women’s Health Clinic, you’ll receive exceptional gynecological and obstetrical care. Contact us today, and we’ll be glad to answer any questions you have about treating endometriosis.