What is endometriosis?
This condition occurs when tissue similar to the tissue inside the uterus (endometrium) begins to grow in the pelvis, outside of the uterus.
Although all causes of endometriosis are not completely understood, some theories suggest that genetics, hormones and the immune system may play a role. Endometriosis may also spread through the blood, lymph nodes or from direct contact with endometrium tissue.
Symptoms vary by person. Many women do not experience any symptoms, while others have multiple symptoms. Women with endometriosis may also struggle with infertility.
Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods – Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before a period and last for several days. Cramping pain may be accompanied by lower back and abdominal pain.
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Diarrhea or constipation
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Although medical history and a physical exam can point to endometriosis, a definitive diagnosis requires visual inspection during laparoscopy — which is a minimally invasive procedure requiring only small incisions. During this procedure, a small, flexible tube is placed into the abdomen to collect a sample of tissue that will be looked at under a microscope.
Endometriosis can be treated medically, surgically or with a combination of both. Treatment depends on symptoms, but we’ll always suggest the option that works best for your individual situation.
For some women, especially those who don’t have symptoms that interrupt daily activities or have signs of infertility, watchful waiting may be the best course of action. If symptoms change or increase, we can then begin more active treatment.
A prescription may be given to suppress hormone production, which will decrease activity in the ovaries and change the menstrual cycle. The goal is to reduce the levels of hormones that may trigger pain or cause endometrial tissue to grow.
If medication does not provide enough relief from symptoms, we’ll explain the different surgery options available and recommend the procedure we believe is best based on a woman’s overall health, current endometriosis and goals for fertility.
Surgery may involve ablating or burning away the problem tissue, complete removal of the endometrial tissue or, if appropriate, a hysterectomy with or without removal of ovaries.
Whenever possible, we’ll use minimally invasive surgery, which requires only small incisions, allowing you to recover more quickly.
Why choose Ohio State for gynecologic care and minimally invasive surgery?
Our providers have finished additional years of medical training in advanced gynecologic and minimally invasive surgery. We have special expertise in treating advanced endometriosis as well as uterine fibroids and other complex conditions that may require laparoscopic or robotic surgery.
Our practice is dedicated to treating these conditions and caring for patients with empathy, respect and partnership. We understand the problems that endometriosis can cause — from its impact on daily activities to the worry and concern it creates about pregnancy and future fertility. We’ll take the time to explain your condition, discuss your concerns and find the right treatment for the best results.