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Endometriosis is a condition that occurs in women when the inner uterus lining starts to grow outside of the uterus, often behind the uterus, on the bowels, or on the bladder. Endometriosis is most commonly diagnosed among women in their 30s and 40s, but the onset of the condition typically starts during reproductive years.
Your OBGYN can help diagnose your symptoms as endometriosis and determine the best treatment for you.
The most common symptoms that women experience if they have endometriosis include pain, spotting in between periods, heavy periods, infertility, and digestive problems. Not all women experience symptoms, but pain is the most common symptom and can be:
Painful menstrual cramps
Chronic pain the lower abdomen or intestines
Pain during or after sex
Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods
Pain from Endometriosis is caused by the benign growth of the endometrial lining. These growths bleed in the same way as your uterus during your period. Other problems can result such as your fallopian tubes being blocked, inflammation, and scar tissue around your uterus, intestines, or bladder.
In addition to discussing your symptoms with your gynecologist, he or she may suggest another exam to diagnosis endometriosis. During a pelvic exam, your doctor may be able to feel for large cysts or scars behind your uterus. An ultrasound or MRI may also be done to check for ovarian cysts.
Surgery is the only way to confirm that you have endometriosis. Your OBGYN may perform a laparoscopic procedure to see or biopsy the endometriosis growths.
Symptom Management and Treatment
Since there is no cure for endometriosis, talk with your doctor about your situation and the best symptoms management options for you.
If you are not trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control is usually the first step to help reduce pain and bleeding.
If you are trying to get pregnant other hormonal medications may treat endometriosis. When birth control isn't an option, pain medications may also be suggested for your symptoms.
Surgery is typically recommended only when symptoms are very severe, other treatments haven't worked, or you are having infertility problems. During surgery, the endometriosis growths are removed, which provides short term relief from pain.
If you're experiencing severe pain related to your period, are having problems with infertility, and suffer from heavy periods, schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor about endometriosis.