Endometriosis – Everything you need to know
With March being designated Endometriosis Awareness Month, we wanted to share an informational article on everything you need to know about this disorder. Read on to find out what Endometriosis is, the symptoms associated, how it is diagnosed and what treatments are available!
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that makes up the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus and is present on other organs inside your body. The displaced endometrial tissue acts as it normally would, thickening, breaking down and bleeding with each menstrual cycle – which in turn can cause painful periods or severe pelvic pain. Approximately 1 in 10 women are affected by endometriosis, and it is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s and may make it harder to get pregnant.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain, but it can affect women in many different ways. Women with endometriosis often report having back or pelvic pain, pain before and/or after menstruation, severe cramps, pain during sex and painful bowel movements. Some women with endometriosis don’t have any symptoms and don’t find out until infertility becomes an issue.
How am I diagnosed?
Endometriosis can only be truly diagnosed by undergoing a type of surgery called a laparoscopy. In this surgery, a doctor will look in the abdomen with a lighted camera scope and remove samples of tissue that are suspected to be abnormal to biopsy.
What treatments are available?
There’s no known cure, but it can be managed through medications, surgery or both. Hormone therapy may help slow the growth of endometrial tissue and prevent new lesions from growing. Hormone drugs such as birth control pills or IUDs can be used as a long-term care plan, helping you to have fewer periods or stopping them altogether. Other forms of pain medication can be used, so you should discuss your pain level with your doctor to help them better determine which pain pills to prescribe you.
When medications are unable to curb the pain, some women choose to undergo surgery to remove painful patches of endometrial tissue. Sometimes it is necessary to continue taking hormone medications post-surgery to ensure that the tissue doesn’t grow back. If the endometriosis is interfering with fertility, surgery may be able to correct these problems. In the most severe cases, it becomes necessary for some women to opt for radical surgery, including the removal of the uterus and ovaries. This is perhaps the hardest decision that women with endometriosis face.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. If you believe you may have endometriosis, don’t wait to reach out to your provider. If you’re looking for an ObGyn, we’d love it if you contact us at The OB/GYN Group of Austin.