Understanding Endometriosis

March 23, 2018

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What is Endometriosis?
It is a condition when tissue (the endometrium) normally found in the woman’s uterus grows outside of the uterus.

How common is endometriosis?
It occurs in about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and is often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The most common symptom is chronic pelvic pain occurring:
  • Before and during monthly periods
  • Between monthly periods
  • During or after sex
  • When urinating or having a bowel movement

How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Your health care provider may do a physical exam first, including a pelvic exam. However, the only way to tell for sure that you have endometriosis is through a surgical procedure called laparoscopy. A small amount of tissue is removed during the procedure, called a biopsy. Your health care provider may also try using Lupron (synthetic hormone) to treat symptoms, if symptoms improve, endometriosis diagnosis can be determined.

How is endometriosis treated?
Treatment depends on the extent of the disease, your symptoms and whether you want to have children. You and your doctor can discuss the following treatments that would work best for your diagnosis:
  • Pain Medicines: Can treat the pain caused by endometriosis, but does not make endometriosis go away.
  • Birth Control Medicines: Can help reduce pain symptoms, but not appropriate for women who are trying to get pregnant.
  • Medicines that Stop Monthly Periods: These medicines stop the body from producing certain hormones, causing endometrial tissues to shrink.
  • Surgery: Some women choose to have surgery to treat endometriosis, which can include laparoscopy and hysterectomy.
 

References:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, patient FAQ, October 2012
UpToDate, patient education, endometriosis (Beyond the basics), March 2017



 

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