Endometriosis: Causes And Treatment Options
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the inside of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis is estimated to be responsible for up to 1/3 of all female infertility cases. Endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and attaches to other organs in your abdominal cavity such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The endometrial tissue inside and outside of your uterus responds to your menstrual cycle hormones in a similar way — it swells and thickens, then sheds to mark the beginning of the next cycle. Unlike the menstrual blood from your uterus that is discharged through your vagina, the blood from the endometrial tissue in your abdominal cavity has no place to go. Inflammation occurs in the areas where the blood pools, forming scar tissue. Scar tissue can block the fallopian tubes or interfere with ovulation.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Endometriosis Symptoms?
- Painful menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea or “killer cramps”)
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Pain upon intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Abdomen pain and bowel dysfunction that includes painful bowel movements, diarrhea, bloating, gassiness or cramps
- Bladder dysfunction, such as painful urination
- Weakness, numbness or pain in nerves (neuropathy)
- Personality changes (depression, stress, apathy)
Some people with minimal or mild endometriosis have no symptoms at all, except trouble conceiving. At IRMS we work with you to determine if your medical history includes any of the above symptoms. This combined with a pelvic exam may suggest an endometriosis diagnosis.
Your IRMS physician will determine the best treatment options for you based on your individual test results and will create a personalized course of action to help you increase your chances of pregnancy. Your physician may recommend one or more of the following:
- Laparoscopy to diagnose and remove endometriosis scar tissue
- Timed intercourse or intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, pregnancy can suppress progression of endometriosis and can even cause regression. So, using safe and effective fertility treatment such as IVF or IUI is often much healthier for you than surgery, because you can accomplish your goal of conceiving and treat your endometriosis at the same time.