Endometriosis is a condition of the reproductive organs, causing heavy, painful menstruation, and potentially affecting fertility.
The endometrium is the lining of your uterus, which is shed monthly during your period. In women who have endometriosis, endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, most often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby tissues. In some cases, endometriosis spreads to other organs outside the pelvic region.
The endometrial tissue growing outside your uterus behaves in the same way as the endometrium; it thickens, sheds, and bleeds every time you menstruate. The blood and shed tissues get trapped inside your body, irritating the surrounding organs and tissues, and causing the formation of scar tissue.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain that typically worsens during your period. Other symptoms you may experience are usually worse during menstruation, or may only occur during your period. Common symptoms include:
Lower back pain
Painful bowel movements
Pain when urinating
Excessive menstrual bleeding
Bleeding between periods
If you"re hoping to start a family, endometriosis can cause problems with conception, and for many women, diagnosis occurs as a result of investigations into infertility.
Risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing endometriosis include:
Never having been pregnant
Menstrual cycles that last less than 27 days
Heavy periods that last more than seven days
Family history of endometriosis
Endometriosis most often develops from the late teens. Many women find symptoms reduce when they"re pregnant.
What treatments are available for endometriosis?
At Evergreen Women's Health, PC., Dr. McNally provides you with a personalized, holistic treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your endometriosis symptoms and needs, she might recommend hormone therapy to alleviate your symptoms. You might also benefit from over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce menstrual cramping.
For a long-term solution to endometriosis, Dr. McNally may suggest laparoscopic surgery. A laparoscope is a thin tube with a camera attached. It"s inserted into your body through very small incisions. As the images project onto a screen in the operating room, Dr. McNally can confirm your diagnosis and find areas of endometrial growth. She then inserts small surgical instruments to remove the abnormal endometrium.
Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and usually involves a shorter recovery as compared to traditional open surgery. But in severe cases, when other treatments haven't relieved your symptoms, and you're not planning on having more children, Dr. McNally might recommend a hysterectomy.
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