1 in every 10 women of child-bearing age has endometriosis, which is the overgrowth of uterine lining beyond the uterus. Dr. Smith’s practice offers treatment options for those who struggle with this condition.
What is Endometriosis?
It is a common gynecological condition, in which the tissue that lines your uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of your uterine cavity. It can grow on other parts of the reproductive system such as the ovaries or spread to the bowels and tissues lining your pelvis. It is unusual for the tissue to spread beyond the pelvic region, but it is not impossible. Endometrial tissue outside of the uterus is known as an endometrial implant.
The hormonal changes brought on by your menstrual cycle will also affect any misplaced tissue outside of the uterus. This will cause the areas to become inflamed and painful as the tissue grows, thickens, and sheds as it does in your uterus. Depending on the location this can cause internal bleeding, pain, and reduce your chances of pregnancy.
Symptoms of endometriosis vary. Some women may experience mild symptoms while others may have more moderate to severe experiences. The severity of your pain does not indicate the degree or stage of your condition. Some women with severe cases only experience minimal symptoms.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, but you may also experience:
- Painful periods
- Pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
- Cramps one or two weeks around menstruation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain following intercourse
- Discomfort with bowel movements
- Lower back pain at any time during your menstrual cycle
You may also experience no symptoms, which is why it is important to attend routine gynecological exams. This will allow your doctor to note any changes. If suspected, your doctor may recommend laparoscopy as it is the only certain method of identifying endometriosis by viewing it directly. A tissue sample will be sent and analyzed by the lab to confirm the diagnosis.
There is no cure, so treatment focuses on the management of symptoms and improving your quality of life. Everyone reacts differently, so Dr. Smith and her staff will work with you to design the right treatment plan for your condition.
Pain medication can be used to help manage some symptoms of pain and inflammation.
Hormonal therapies can also relieve pain and stop the progression of endometriosis in some cases. By blocking the natural production of estrogen, endometriosis can be slowed but may also bring on early symptoms of menopause.
Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery, may also be used to remove endometrial tissue from various sites.
In severe cases and if your condition does not respond to other forms of treatment, your doctor may suggest undergoing a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy removes the uterus, cervix, and ovaries as well as any visible implant lesions. Undergoing this surgery means you will be unable to become pregnant.