Endometriosis is the presence of uterine glands and stroma that implant outside the uterus. It is a common condition affecting up to 10% of females of reproductive age. Having a close family member with endometriosis increases your risk 7-fold. The cause of endometriosis is not well understood and, although there are several theories, none seem to apply universally. Endometriosis implants are most commonly located in the lower abdomen (pelvis) but have been found in other areas of the body; the eye, lung, brain, and skin.
Endometriosis causes two main problems: pain and infertility. Pain may be mild or severe and may or may not correlate with the severity of endometriosis. Pain may be located in the upper or lower abdomen affecting the bladder, intestines, uterus, tubes, ovaries or cervix. Usually pain is worse during menses and the week before menses. You may also experience pain during exercise or intercourse.
Endometriosis may also cause infertility, inability to get pregnant, secondary to damage to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The longer endometriosis goes untreated, the more damage that may occur.
Treatment for endometriosis includes medication and/or surgery. Medications including birth control pills, Depo-Provera shot or Lupron injection decrease the activity of the endometriosis implants. Surgery, either through a camera or an incision, specifically locates implants which can then be cut out or burned. Surgery is the only way to truly diagnose endometriosis, there are no blood tests or imaging studies that can definitively diagnose endometriosis.
If you have or suspect you have endometriosis, make an appointment to discuss treatment options.