What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful condition that develops when the tissue that forms the lining of the uterus begins growing outside the uterus. The growths are called implants, and they can grow on the outside of the uterine wall, in the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, in the intestines or elsewhere in the abdominal cavity. In very rare instances, implants may grow outside the abdominal cavity.

Implants can be very small or very large, with size fluctuating with natural changes in hormone levels. Endometriosis occurs during the childbearing years with implants shrinking during menopause in most women. A few women may continue to experience symptoms even after their periods have ended.

What symptoms does endometriosis cause?

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pain, including severe cramping during periods. Some women may also experience feelings of pressure in the pelvic region, as well as pain in the lower back.

Other symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, bleeding following intercourse, and pelvic pain when having a bowel movement. Women who have endometriosis may also have problems becoming pregnant. When endometrial implants are small, they may cause few or no symptoms, and some women may not realize they have the condition until they have problems becoming pregnant.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis typically is diagnosed with a pelvic exam and a Pap test, as well as a review of symptoms. Minimally-invasive procedures and diagnostic imaging are also used.

How is endometriosis treated?

Endometriosis cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. Our endometriosis specialists provide multi-faceted treatment options such as:

  • hormone therapy aimed at balancing hormone levels to help shrink endometrial implants and control abnormal bleeding
  • pain medications to relieve cramping
  • minimally-invasive procedures to remove the endometrial implants
  • treatments to address any associated infertility issues 

Often, a combination of treatments is used to achieve maximum benefit. If implants return or symptoms recur, re-treatments may be needed.

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