Many women living in Southwest Orlando suffer from endometriosis and the often debilitating symptoms, such as pain and difficulty conceiving. Endometriosis is a common problem experienced by many women during their childbearing years. Endometriosis describes a condition in which the kind of tissue that lines the inside of your uterus, called endometrium, begins to grow outside the uterus.
These growths, called implants, can grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the outer wall of the uterus, the intestines, or other organs in the abdomen.
The doctors explain that endometriosis doesn’t always cause problems or symptoms but sometimes the endometrial growths, called implants, can be painful, form scar tissue and make it difficult for you to get pregnant.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometrial implants are made of the same tissue that lines your uterus in preparation for a fertilized egg. During your menstrual cycle, they get thicker, then break down and bleed. But the implants are outside your uterus, so the blood cannot flow out of your body. The implants can get irritated and painful. Sometimes they form scar tissue or fluid-filled sacs, called cysts.
Endometriosis varies from woman to woman. Some women do not know that they have it until they go to see a doctor because they cannot get pregnant. Some have mild cramping that they think is normal for them. In other women, the pain and bleeding are so bad that they are not able to work or go to school.
The most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the general area where the implants are growing.
- Abnormal bleeding such as heavy periods, spotting or bleeding between periods, bleeding after sex, or blood in their urine or stool.
- Trouble getting pregnant.
Causes and Risk Factors of Endometriosis
Experts do not know what causes endometriosis, but they do know that high levels of estrogen can make endometriosis worse. Estrogen levels are at their highest during childbearing years and drops during menopause. Your risk of developing endometriosis is decreases and symptoms often stop when you reach menopause.
Tests to Diagnose Endometriosis
Symptoms of endometriosis can include pain and abnormal bleeding. If you have concerns, should talk to your doctor right away.
Your doctor will begin diagnosis with a full medical history and physical exam. If your doctor suspects endometriosis, your doctor may order additional tests including:
- Imaging tests like an ultrasound, an MRI, or a CT scan to get a clear picture of your internal organs
- Exploratory laparoscopic surgery to see inside your body; endometrial implants can be removed during the surgery if needed.
Treatments and Procedures for Endometriosis
There is no cure for endometriosis, but there are good treatment options available. Your doctor may recommend several treatments to alleviate your symptoms depending on your personal situation, such as whether you want to get pregnant in the future.
Non-invasive treatments for endometriosis include:
- Over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Birth control pills can control pain and shrink the implants.
- Hormone therapy to stop your periods, reduce bleeding, and shrink the implants.
Surgical treatments for endometriosis may be the only option in some cases:
- Laparoscopic surgery to remove implants or scar tissue is the only treatment option that increases your chances of getting pregnant.
- Treatment with hormone therapy has not controlled symptoms, and symptoms interfere with daily living.
- Endometrial implants or scar tissue adhesions interferes with the functions of other abdominal organs.
Women who experience severe pain and other severe symptoms may undergo surgery to remove their uterus and ovaries, called hysterectomy with oophorectomy.
For more information about specific endometriosis and advanced stages of endometriosis treatment options available at A Place for Women in Celebration, Florida, contact us.