What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition of a woman’s reproductive organs in which tissue similar to that of the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus. Endometriosis may be found on the:
- Fallopian tubes
- The outer surface of the uterus
- Connective tissues that hold your uterus in place
In rare cases, endometriosis may affect the bowel, bladder, and even organs in other parts of the body, such as the lungs and skin.
What are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
One of the major symptoms of endometriosis is the pain, including intense menstrual cramps, pain in the lower back and pelvis, and pain around the time of sexual intercourse – either during or after. Other symptoms include:
- Spotting or bleeding between your periods
- Digestive distress, including diarrhea and constipation
Endometriosis is not cancerous, but because the growths act like uterine tissue, the tissue bleeds monthly, just like the lining of your uterus. The blood doesn’t have a way to easily exit the body, which leads to swelling and discomfort.
What are the Complications of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis growths can block your fallopian tubes, and the resulting trapped blood can cause cysts. The growths also lead to the development of scar tissue that impedes pregnancy and causes pelvic pain. You can also experience problems in your intestines and bladder as a result of endometriosis.
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
If Dr. Anthony and Dr. Chua suspect endometriosis, they perform several tests to confirm the diagnosis. These include a standard pelvic exam as well as imaging tests such as an MRI and laparoscopic surgery to look inside your pelvic area to view any endometrial tissue.
They may also offer prescription medicine containing hormones to help block the menstrual cycle and lessen pain. If your body responds to these medications, it’s likely that you have endometriosis.
How is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis has no cure, but can be managed successfully. If you’re not trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control can offer successful treatment.
If you are trying to get pregnant, the doctors may prescribe a different kind of medicine. This medication affects the hormones that regulate monthly ovulation and abnormal growth of the endometrial tissue. This treatment causes temporary menopause, but it also curbs the growth of endometriosis — so when you stop taking it, your chance of getting pregnant may improve.
In some cases, laparoscopic surgery may be the only recourse for severe symptoms. Surgery can also help remove endometriosis that is interfering with your ability to get pregnant.