What Is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to that which forms the lining of your uterus grows outside your uterine cavity. It is usually found in the lower abdomen or pelvis, but can also appear elsewhere in the body. The condition is often painful to varying degrees, though some patients may not have any symptoms at all. Women with endometriosis may report difficulty in becoming pregnant.
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods. Known as dysmenorrhea, pelvic pain and cramping may begin before and extend several days into a menstrual period. You may also have pain in the lower back and abdomen.
- Pain with intercourse. Pain during or after sex is common with endometriosis.
- Painful bowel movements or urination. You are most likely to experience these symptoms during a menstrual period.
- Excessive bleeding. You may experience occasional heavy menstrual periods or bleeding between periods.
- Infertility. Endometriosis can be first diagnosed in women seeking treatment for infertility.
- Other signs and symptoms. You may experience fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
How is endometriosis diagnosed?
Diagnosis of endometriosis is quite difficult since there is no single test for evaluation. The only way to confidently confirm the condition is by undergoing a surgical laparoscopy. This is a minimally invasive procedure whereby a thin, lighted tube containing a miniature camera is inserted through a small incision in the pelvic area. Other diagnostic strategies include pelvic examination, radiologic imaging with ultrasound or MRI.
Why is endometriosis associated with infertility?
Between 20% and 40% of women with infertility have endometriosis. The condition appears to impair fertility in two ways: by causing distortion of the fallopian tubes so that they are unable to pick up the egg after ovulation, and by creating inflammation that can adversely affect the function of the ovary, egg, fallopian tubes or uterus.
What can we do for you?
Endometriosis has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed, and you should consult your doctor or fertility specialist to decide which treatment would work best for you. Medical and surgical options are available to help reduce your symptoms and manage any potential complications. Your doctor may first try conservative treatments, such as birth control pills or gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists, before recommending surgery if your condition does not improve.