Endometriosis is an often-painful condition that women experience when tissue that lines the uterus begins to develop outside of the uterus. Endometriosis may affect many areas of a woman’s body and reproductive system such as her ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue. This errant tissue does not receive a signal from the body to discontinue its normal functioning so it may thicken and bleed during a woman’s menstrual cycle. With no exit pathway, as it is out of alignment and out of place, it can become trapped, irritated, and cause scarring. Additionally the scar tissue can, in some cases, cause organs to become adhered to each other.
Endometriosis can cause severe pain at any time but especially during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Additionally, long-term disturbances could result in fertility problems.
While some women may have mild symptoms, others may have intense, severe symptoms, often with pain in the pelvic area. There are many common symptoms of endometriosis such as the following:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Endometriosis can be misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or ovarian cysts. Patients may think they have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to their diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal cramps. And while IBS can present along with endometriosis, endometriosis should not be confused with IBS. If you think you are suffering from symptoms that could indicate a diagnosis of endometriosis, see your doctor for testing and evaluation.
Your treatment for endometriosis will depend on the severity of the disorder, your age, health, and pregnancy planning. In some cases, birth control hormones such as pills and patches may provide relief from pain. If you are planning for a pregnancy and cannot use birth control hormones, or prefer not to, your doctor may suggest anti-inflammatories. Additionally, other hormone therapy options are possible, talk to your doctor. If the endometriosis is causing organ problems your doctor may suggest surgery to remove endometrial growths as well as any scar tissue. Laparoscopy is a common procedure that involves one or more small incisions and is minimally invasive. These surgeries can be performed under a general anesthetic.
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