Endometriosis occurs when cells that normally line the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere, usually in the pelvis around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your general physical health, emotional well-being and daily routine. It is very common, affecting between 2-10 women out of 100. You are more likely to develop this condition if your mother or sister has had it. Endometriosis typically affects women during their reproductive years and can impact fertility.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Common symptoms include pelvic pain and painful, sometimes irregular or heavy periods. It can cause pain during or after sex and can lead to fertility problems. You may also have pain related to your bowels, bladder, lower back or the tops of your legs, and experience long-term fatigue. Some women do not have any endometriosis symptoms. Pain often becomes worse before and during your period. Some women experience pain all the time but for others it may come and go. The pain may get better during pregnancy and sometimes it may disappear without any treatment.
What causes endometriosis?
The exact cause is not known. Endometriosis is thought to happen when cells that line the womb are carried to the pelvis via the fallopian tubes during your period. These cells respond to hormones and bleed. Unlike cells in the womb, which leave your body through the vagina, this blood has nowhere to escape. This can cause pain, inflammation and possibly damage to your pelvic organs.
What tests are used to check for endometriosis?
Tests usually include a pelvic ultrasound scan to check the uterus and ovaries. This trans-vaginal scan may detect an endometriotic (chocolate) cyst in the ovaries or may suggest endometriosis between the vagina and rectum.
Laparoscopy is the only way to get a definite diagnosis of endometriosis. You may have a biopsy taken to confirm the diagnosis and images may be taken for your medical records.
Your Merrion Fertility Clinic doctor may suggest treating this condition at the time of your first laparoscopy, either by removing cysts on the ovaries or treating any areas on the lining of your pelvis. This may avoid a second operation. Sometimes, however, the extent of the condition found means that you may need further tests or treatment.
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