Women’s Health A-Z
Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological diseases. It occurs when the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus grows in other areas of the pelvis, and, rarely, outside of the pelvis. While the condition is common, exact causes are unknown, though many researchers theorize that genetics, the strength of the immune system, and reproductive hormones may be involved.
Symptoms vary widely among women. Some have no complaints at all while for others symptoms can be debilitating.
- Pelvic pain
- Painful abdominal cramps
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Painful bowel movements or pain with urination during your period
- Heavy periods
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
The path towards diagnosis will start with questions about your medical history along with physical and pelvic exams. Ultrasound or MRI may also be used to help your physician see nodules or cysts that indicate the condition. Laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to biopsy and diagnose small lesions not visible with imaging.
There are also other organs in the pelvis like the bladder and bowels that can be sources of pain, so physicians in other specialties can be helpful during the diagnosis phase.
Treatment of endometriosis has two main goals: relief of symptoms and prevention of complications such as pelvic scarring and infertility. The treatments range from hormonal contraceptives to ovarian function blockers to surgery. It may also include pelvic floor physical therapy and counseling if the pain is also impacting your mood.