See the following for details on endometriosis symptoms, endometriosis causes & endometriosis treatment options.
Endometriosis: What is it?
It occurs when cells that normally line the womb (the endometrium) are found elsewhere, usually in the pelvis around the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is not cancer and it is not infectious. It is a very common condition, affecting between 2 and 10 women out of 100. You are more likely to develop this condition if your mother or sister has had it.
Endometriosis usually affects women during their reproductive years. It is a long-term condition that can have a significant impact on your general physical health, emotional well-being and daily routine.
Endometriosis Symptoms: What are the symptoms?
Common Endometriosis 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. For some women there may not be any endometriosis symptoms.
It can cause pain that occurs in a regular pattern, becoming 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.
Endometriosis Causes: What are the causes?
The exact cause is not known. It 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 your hormones and bleed. Unlike the 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.
Endometriosis Tests: What tests might I be offered?
Tests usually include a pelvic ultrasound scan. This may be a trans-vaginal scan to check the uterus and ovaries. It may show whether there is an endometriotic (chocolate) cyst in the ovaries or may suggest endometriosis between the vagina and rectum.
You may be offered a laparoscopy, which is the only way to get a definite diagnosis. This is carried out under a general anaesthetic. Small cuts are made in your abdomen and a telescope is inserted to look at your pelvis. You may have a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and images may be taken for your medical records.
The 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.
The procedure, including any risks and the benefits, will be discussed with you. After your operation you be will told the results. You can often go home the same day after a laparoscopy.
Endometriosis Treatment: What are my options?
This Endometriosis Treatment option works by reducing inflammation. There are several different ways of helping you relieve your pain. This can range from over-the-counter remedies to prescribed medications from your health practitioner. In more severe situations, you may be referred to a specialist pain management team.
This Endometriosis treatment reduces or stops ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary) and thus allow the condition to shrink or disappear by decreasing hormonal stimulation.
Surgery can treat or remove areas of endometriosis. The surgery recommended will depend on where the condition is and how extensive it is. This may be done when the diagnosis is made or may be offered later. Success rates vary and you may need further surgery. Your doctor at MFC will discuss the options with you fully.
Endometriosis and Fertility: Fertility treatment options
Getting pregnant can be a problem for some women with this condition. Your doctor at MFC can provide you with information about your endometriosis treatment options.
Adapted from RCOG Patient information leaflet: Endometriosis July 2016.