Endometriosis is an uncomfortable condition in which the tissue that typically lines your uterus begins to grow outside this organ, often in the ovaries, bowel, and pelvic area. This tissue becomes inflamed and bleeds each month as it would during a normal period, leading to painful irritation, cysts, and scar tissue. While doctors aren’t sure what causes endometriosis, it’s more common in women who have never given birth, who have a relative with this condition, or who have a history of pelvic infection or uterine abnormalities.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain that worsens during your period. You may also experience pain during sexual intercourse or when you go to the bathroom, heavy bleeding during and between periods, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive symptoms. Also, some women who have endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.
While the cause of pelvic pain can be difficult to diagnose, see your doctor if you suspect you have endometriosis. At South Lake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery, we can help determine the cause of your symptoms. In some cases, we may be able to diagnose this condition with a simple pelvic exam. Usually, however, additional testing is needed, including ultrasound imaging and laparoscopy (in which a tiny camera is inserted into the abdomen, and tissue samples removed.
While endometriosis is highly treatable, the type of treatment varies depending on whether you are currently trying to get pregnant. In mild cases, your doctor may recommend managing symptoms with over the counter pain medication. For some women, hormone therapy can be effective. These types of treatments include hormonal contraception (such as birth control pills, patches, or rings), as well as drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists and antagonists, Danazol, and Depo-Provera that block the production of hormones, causing the uterine tissue to shrink. Because hormonal treatments cause side effects, talk with your doctor about what type of drugs are right for your situation.
If these treatments are ineffective, surgery may be recommended. These procedures, which are often done laparoscopically, strive to remove as much of the endometrial tissue as possible while preserving the healthy function of the ovaries and uterus. If you do not wish to become pregnant, you may consider undergoing a hysterectomy if more conservative treatments are ineffective.
In addition to medical treatments, you can manage the symptoms of endometriosis with self-care. Regular exercise and heat therapy can both help reduce the pain associated with this condition. Contact South Lake OB/GYN and Advanced Surgery to schedule your appointment with one of our providers. Together we can determine the safest and most effective treatment method for your needs.