What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a medical condition where uterine lining tissue grows in areas outside the uterus, including the ovaries, the outer uterine wall, the fallopian tubes or even the intestines. In some very rare cases, the tissue may even develop outside the abdominal area. Endometrial growths vary in size and often fluctuate with natural hormonal cycles and resulting in an array of symptoms. Endometriosis usually develops and peaks during childbearing years, with growths usually shrinking or subsiding during menopause. In rare cases, some women can continue to experience symptoms even after they have entered menopause and periods have ended.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
The two most common symptoms of endometriosis are severe cramping during menstruation and chronic pelvic pain. Other common symptoms include lower back pain before or during a period, pain during intercourse, abnormal or heavy vaginal bleeding, pain during bowel movements, and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse. Endometriosis can interfere with a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Each woman has a unique experience with endometriosis and the doctors at Legacy OB/GYN customize treatment to address the condition as well as the symptoms of endometriosis for each individual patient. Some patients get temporary pain relief from prescription or over the counter medication. However, most patients eventually opt for a long-term solution like hormone therapy. There are a number of different hormone regimens that can help with symptoms by inhibiting new endometrial tissue growth which relieves symptoms. In some severe situations, surgery may be the best solution to resolve the condition. Laparoscopic procedures including hysterectomies are the most common surgical procedures. In most cases, a laparoscopic surgery will be performed to remove the growths, as this preserves the patient’s fertility. Some patients may need additional laparoscopic surgery if the endometrial growths return, but many women remain healthy and symptom-free as hormone therapy can typically control and even stop new endometriosis growths.