Reviewed by Sarah Harris, MD, Galen OBGYN
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. This tissue can often be found on the outer surface of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the intestines, causing a variety of symptoms.
Endometriosis symptoms vary from patient to patient, and can include pain, bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods, digestive issues, and infertility. That said, the most common symptom is pain. Endo sufferers often deal with very painful menstrual cramps that can get worse over time, chronic pain in the lower back and pelvic area, pain during or after sex, and intestinal pain.
Even though endometriosis growths are benign/non-cancerous, they can still cause a variety of issues and health problems. The endometriosis tissue that grows in areas where it does not belong can swell and bleed in the same way the uterine lining does each month during menstrual cycles. This can cause swelling and pain because the growing tissue and blood becomes trapped in areas where it cannot easily leave the body. Growths can also continue to expand which can cause inflammation, cysts, blocking of the fallopian tubes, and scar tissue that can be painful and make it difficult to get pregnant.
This disorder can affect any girl or woman who has menstrual periods, but it is most common in women in their 30s and 40s. If you are experiencing symptoms that could be linked to endometriosis, your doctor will likely conduct a pelvic exam as well as imaging or ultrasounds. A laparoscopy, or any type of surgery during which your doctor can further inspect the affected tissue, is also required. In these procedures, a sample of the tissue is taken for study. If endometriosis is detected, there are then treatment options to consider with your provider.
Endometriosis treatments can include medicines, specifically hormonal birth control if you are not trying to get pregnant. A hormonal IUD can also help address pain and excessive bleeding. If the endometriosis and its symptoms are severe enough, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the affected tissue.
Galen OBGYN is versed in detecting and treating endometriosis, and we are here to help if you or someone you love is dealing with symptoms of this common disorder. We will work with you to find solutions for pain, infertility, and other issues associated with endometriosis in a compassionate, patient-focused environment. You are not alone. We stand with you in the fight against endometriosis.