What is Endometriosis? A Complete Overview
Endometriosis is a disorder of the pelvis when cells similar to those found in the lining of the uterus get inside the abdomen. Endometriosis is a painful condition that often affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and other organs and tissues in the abdomen.
The endometrial tissue that is abnormally implanted in the abdomen in woman with endometriosis bleeds as it normally would during the menstrual cycle, this bleeding that occurs in the abdomen each month causes blood in the abdomen, scarring and inflammation. This scarring can lead to painful symptoms
especially during a woman’s period. It is important to note, not all women with endometriosis experience pain. Additionally, the level of pain is not a reliable indicator of the severity of endometriosis. Some women with very mild cases of endometriosis can experience the most severe symptoms, while women with severe endometriosis experience little to no pain.
It is not completely known what causes endometriosis, but researchers suspect a genetic defect that causes abnormal endometrial tissue to develop. This abnormal endometrial tissue is able to sustain its own estrogen production. Therefore, when this abnormal endometrial tissue gets into the abdomen, those that have the abnormal endometrial tissue will continue to have this endometrial tissue grow, as it can make its own estrogen.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The main symptom of endometriosis is pain localized in the pelvic region. It is common for the pain to intensify during the menstrual period. Other common symptoms include:
Painful intercourse – pain during and after intercourse is a common symptom.
Painful bowel movements and urination with shooting pains in the rectum.
Infertility – Women suffering from endometriosis are more likely to have fertility issues, especially if the male partner has a borderline normal or an abnormal semen analysis. Endometriosis can often be first diagnosed in women seeking infertility treatment at a Denver fertility clinic.
The level of pain is not a reliable indicator of the severity of the condition. Some women with very mild cases of endometriosis can experience severe symptoms, while women with severe endometriosis experience no pain.
Endometriosis is commonly misdiagnosed for other conditions causing pelvic pain including pelvic cysts and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
It is not completely known what causes endometriosis, but researchers and healthcare providers suspect a process known as retrograde menstruation is the likely culprit. During this process, menstrual blood flow back through the Fallopian tubes getting trapped in the pelvic cavity. The cells attach to the organ walls, and continue to grow and thicken over time.
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Pelvic examination – a pelvic exam requires the doctor to manually feel for cysts or painful areas caused by endometriosis.
Ultrasound – a transvaginal ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina that produces an image of the pelvic cavity, which assists the physician in identifying areas suspicious for endometriosis.
Laparoscopy – this test involves minor surgery where the doctor looks in the abdomen with a small telescope by making a small incision in the navel.
What is the Treatment for Endometriosis?
There is medical and surgical treatment for endometriosis. For the treatment of infertility surgical treatment is best. For those that wish only to control the pain and growth of endometriosis but are not trying to conceive medications may be used, after the initial surgical treatment. Medications used in the treatment of endometriosis include NSAID’s , oral contraceptive pills, progestins, gonadtropin releasing hormone analogs, or aromatase inhibitors. The exact medication that is best for treatment is best decided upon with your reproductive endocrinologist.
If you are suffering from endometrios or pelvic pain, seek treatment with the premier fertility doctor in Colorado and South Dakota, Rocky Mountain Fertility Center. Dr. Deborah Smith has over 20 years experience as a Board Certified reproductive and fertility doctor Denver trusts.
She offers free 15 minute phone consultations. Call (303) 999-3877 for assistance today!