The word "endometriosis" (say : "end-oh-me-tree-oh-sis") means a problem with the lining of the uterus. The lining is called the endometrium. Normally, every month when you have your periods, the lining (which is also called endometrial tissue) comes out in menstrual flow.
Endometrial tissue is usually only inside your uterus. However, if you have endometriosis, tissue from the lining of the uterus moves through the fallopian tubes and gets on your ovaries, in your period, this tissue swells and bleeds, just like the lining of your uterus. This is often painful, and scar tissue can form in your pelvic area.
Figure : Endometriosis affects parts of your body around your womb but is often found in the ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. It can also be found attached to the bowel or bladder.
Is Endometriosis harmful to me?
Endometriosis may hurt, but it doesn't cause cancer or affect your overall health, although it might make it harder to get pregnant.
What will be my symptoms be if I have Endometriosis?
If you have painful periods, severe cramping and pain during sex, low back pain or rectal pain, you may have endometriosis. The only way for your doctor to be sure is to a laparoscopy (say : "lap-ah-ross-ca-pee"). This is a way of looking inside your uterus by making a small cut in your skin and putting a thin tube inside. If your doctor decides to perform this procedure, you will be given medicine so you won't feel any pain.
How can we treat Endometriosis?
A number of medicines might help with your pain. Sometimes it helps to take birth control pills. Another medicine that might help is along - acting progestin (this is a hormone that comes in a shot; it's also used for birth control). Other medicine used is a monthly shot of a hormone called a GnRH analog.
How do these medicines work?
These medicines stop your periods. They may cause side effects like the ones women have at menopause. These include hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Danazol might cause acne and unwanted facial hair. Sometimes the side effects of the GnRH analog go away if you also take an estrogen pill every day.
What is the duration of the treatment?
Birth control pills, danazol and GnRH analogs are taken for 4 to 6 months. Pain is usually relieved during the period of medication. After you stop taking the medicine, the pain may come back.
How can it be diagnosed?
It can be diagnosed by ultrasound. Ultrasound shows blood filled cysts in the ovaries. Gold standard for diagnosis is laparoscopy.
What about surgery?
Surgery is also used to treat endometriosis. In this surgery, the doctor removes the endometrial tissue from the abnormal places. If endometriosis is keeping you from getting pregnant, surgery might make it easier for you to get pregnant. However, you might still need other kinds of fertility treatments if you want to get pregnant.
What about pregnancy?
Patients with moderate to severe endometriosis have been known to have difficulty in getting pregnant. The relation of infertility with mild endometriosis is not well documented. Patients will have to follow a strict protocol of treatment wherein the periods will be suppressed for a certain of time to allow the endometriotic process to subside. Their best chance of getting pregnant is with the test tube baby procedure where, in this subset of people, the pregnancy rates can be high as 50%.
What happens during and after menopause?
For many women, endometriosis goes away at menopause, when periods stop. Until menopause medicine and surgery may be able to help with symptoms of endometriosis.
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