Endometriosis occurs when uterine lining tissue grows in areas outside the uterus, including the ovaries, the outer uterine wall, the fallopian tubes or even the intestines. In some very rare cases, the tissue may even grow in an area outside the abdominal area. Endometrial growths are also called implants, and they are very small or quite large, fluctuating with natural hormonal cycles and causing an array of symptoms. Endometriosis occurs during childbearing years, with growths usually shrinking or subsiding during menopause. However, some women can continue to experience symptoms even after they have entered menopause and periods have ended.
Endometriosis is associated with pelvic pain and pressure in many women, including severe cramping during periods. Low back pain prior to and during periods is also common. Other symptoms can include pain during intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during bowel movements and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse. Endometriosis can also interfere with a woman's ability to become pregnant. Some women with endometriosis have very few symptoms and may not realize they have the condition until they experience problems when trying to become pregnant.
The treatment for endometriosis depends on the patient's unique situation. Some patients get temporary pain relief from prescription or over the counter medication. However, most patients eventually opt for a long-term solution like hormone therapy. There are a number of different hormone regimens that can help with symptoms by inhibiting new endometrial tissue growth. With no new endometrial tissue, pain can be greatly reduced, and fertility issues may be resolved.
In some situations, when hormone therapy is not effective, surgery may be the solution. Surgeries that can resolve Endometriosis issues include laparoscopic procedures and hysterectomy. In most cases, a laparoscopic surgery will be performed if at all possible, as this preserves fertility. Some patients may need additional laparoscopic surgery if the endometrial growths return, but hormones can typically control and even stop the growth once the old endometrial tissue is gone. Endometriosis does not have to prevent women from having children, but help from an experienced gynecologist is an essential part of this.
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