Endometriosis is a common gynecological problem affecting women of reproductive age. It occurs when the tissues of the uterus start growing on surfaces of other organs in the pelvis. Endometrium may grow on ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of uterus, pelvic cavity lining, vagina, cervix, vulva, bladder or rectum. Patients may experience painful cramps in the lower abdomen, back or in the pelvis during menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding, painful bowel movements or urination and infertility.
The exact cause for endometriosis is not known, but it is thought to be inherited through genes that run in families. A defect in the immune system, hormonal imbalance, or a complication of other surgeries may cause women to develop endometriosis.
Your gynecologist will ask you about your general health, your symptoms and perform a pelvic examination to feel for the presence of large cysts or scars. An ultrasound scan may also be performed to look for ovarian cysts.
There are several treatment options available to minimize the pain as well as control heavy bleeding.
Pain Medication: Over the counter pain relievers may be helpful for mild pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed by your doctor in cases of severe pain.
Hormone Treatment: Hormone treatment is recommended if there is a small growth and mild pain. Hormonal preparations can be taken in the form of pills, shots, and nasal sprays. Birth control pills help to decrease the amount of menstrual bleeding.
Surgery: Surgery is an option for women having multiple growths, severe pain, or fertility problems. Options include:
- Laparoscopy: During this surgery, growths and scar tissue are removed or cauterized. This is a minimally invasive technique and does not harm the healthy tissues around the growth.
- Laparotomy or major abdominal surgery: This involves a larger cut in the abdomen which allows the doctor to reach and remove the endometrial growth.
- Hysterectomy: It is a surgery that involves removal of the uterus. This procedure is done when there is severe damage to the uterus and only if patient does not want to become pregnant in the future.