What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that should grow inside of the uterus is growing outside of the uterus. The cause of endometriosis is unclear. It causes pain and discomfort, and can sometimes lead to fertility problems. People are typically diagnosed with endometriosis during their reproductive years, around 25-40 years of age.
What are common symptoms of endometriosis?
How common is endometriosis?
According to the World Health Organization, endometriosis affects roughly 10% (190 million) of people of reproductive age globally. This means that 1 in every 10 women have endometriosis.
How do you diagnose and treat endometriosis?
A doctor will begin by asking a series of questions to better understand your symptoms. A physical exam is very important to diagnose endometriosis and it usually includes a pelvic ultrasound. The results of this evaluation can be enough to support a diagnosis of endometriosis, however, surgery to diagnose and treat endometriosis can also be offered. Surgery is usually done through laparoscopy. During laparoscopy, a camera is used to look inside your abdomen and pelvis for any endometriosis tissue that can be removed at the same time.
For mild symptoms, over the counter pain relievers and hormonal contraception methods (like the pill) can help reduce symptoms. For more severe symptoms, there are other medications and surgeries available. The goal of the surgery is to remove the endometriosis tissue found in the pelvis, which should help reduce the pain. If you are also experiencing infertility, this can make it easier to become pregnant if that’s your goal.
Can birth control be used to treat endometriosis?
If your goal is not to become pregnant for the time being, a doctor may recommend hormonal birth control to help regulate your period and reduce your pain. Hormonal birth control can come in many forms including the pill, patch, ring, shot, IUD, etc. The recommended way to use any combined hormonal birth control method is to use it continuously and skip periods to avoid the pain that often comes with menstrual cycles.
How does endometriosis affect fertility?
Endometriosis tissue is most commonly found near the ovaries and the fallopian tubes. With time, the inflammation caused by endometriosis causes the fallopian tubes to become scarred and eventually blocked. The fallopian tubes connect your ovaries to your uterus (the womb). It is necessary for the fallopian tubes to be open in order for an egg and sperm to meet, become fertilized, and eventually become a pregnancy. A diagnosis of endometriosis does not mean that you will definitely have issues with fertility, people can experience more mild cases and still have the ability to become pregnant.
How do you prevent endometriosis?
There is no known way to prevent endometriosis, so it’s important to educate people about the symptoms so that they can identify it with their doctor early on and find an effective treatment plan together.
To learn more and find support, you can visit the Endometriosis Foundation of America.
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