Endometriosis

The uterus is lined with a tissue known as the endometrium. In some women, this tissue begins growing beyond the organ, a condition called endometriosis. The tissue may find itself in the ovaries or Fallopian tubes, and it behaves as if it were still lining the uterus.

At the time of each period, the tissue breaks down and begins bleeding. Unlike the tissue in the uterine lining, which exits through the vagina during the menstrual cycle, this tissue has no exit.

Endometriosis may eventually cause cyst development around the ovaries, while other affected areas became scarred. Adhesions resulting from endometriosis make reproductive organs and tissues adhere to each other.

If you are uncertain if you have endometriosis or if you have any other gynecological issues, you should contact an experienced gynecologist in Greenwich soon.

Symptoms

Many women experience cramping during their menses, but most of them will not have endometriosis. The primary symptom of endometriosis is extremely painful menstrual periods. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain during ovulation
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines that worsen during periods
  • Nausea during periods

For many women, the first indication of endometriosis occurs when they try to get pregnant. Up to half of all women afflicted with endometriosis experience difficulty becoming pregnant.

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to visit a gynecologist as soon as possible. Such symptoms are common in several gynecological disorders, and receiving an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment is essential. The earlier endometriosis is detected, the better the outcome.

Risk Factors

While any woman may develop endometriosis, certain factors increase the odds. These include:

  • Starting menstruation at a young age
  • Brief or short menstrual cycles
  • Late menopause
  • Not giving birth
  • High estrogen levels
  • Family history
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Diagnosis

Endometriosis runs from mild to severe. Endometriosis is most often diagnosed via laparoscopy. This procedure consists of a small tube inserted with a laparoscope – a tiny light – through an incision in the navel. The doctor can then view the area to look for endometriosis, and extract a tiny amount of tissue for examination.

Treatment

Because endometriosis treatment can potentially affect fertility, a woman must understand all options before making treatment decisions. A skilled gynecologist will discuss the pros and cons of various treatments based on each individual patient’s considerations.

Mild cases of endometriosis may respond to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available over the counter, such as ibuprofen. Some women respond well to hormonal therapy, including birth control pills, which slow down the rate of tissue growth. For many women, however, such drug and supplemental therapy is insufficient. Side effects can be common.

Surgical Options

Minimally invasive surgery can remove as much of the endometrial tissue from the uterus and ovaries as possible, possibly allowing for pregnancy in the future.

For severe endometriosis, an ovariohysterectomy – removal of the ovaries and uterus – provides some relief. This is used when other methods have not worked well and the woman either does not want to have children or the condition has made pregnancy impossible.

It is important to note that even a hysterectomy will not guarantee complete pain relief or that endometrial lesions will not return. Endometriosis, and its related pain does return in small percentages of women undergoing ovariohysterectomy.