Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) grows outside the uterus. This tissue can attach to organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and intestines. This leads to pain and discomfort during menstruation, as well as infertility.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
The symptoms of endometriosis can vary greatly from person to person and can be confused with other conditions, making diagnosis difficult. However, there are several common symptoms that women with endometriosis experience.
Pain during menstruation: One of the most common symptoms of endometriosis is pain during menstruation. This pain can range from mild discomfort to severe cramping. Some women may experience pain in the lower abdomen, back, or pelvis during their period. The pain may be so severe that it interferes with daily activities and can last for several days.
Pain during intercourse: Another common symptom of endometriosis is pain during intercourse. This pain can be felt in the pelvic area and can be a result of the endometrial tissue growing on the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes. The pain can also be felt during penetration and can last for several days after intercourse.
Infertility: Endometriosis can also cause infertility. The endometrial tissue can block the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg. In addition, the endometrial tissue can also cause inflammation in the pelvic area, which can damage the eggs and sperm and make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
Heavy or irregular periods: Women with endometriosis may experience heavy or irregular periods. This can be a result of the endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus and causing bleeding. In some cases, women may experience extremely heavy periods that last for several days, leading to anemia.
Constipation or diarrhea: Endometriosis can also cause digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea. This can be a result of the endometrial tissue growing on the intestine, causing discomfort and digestive problems during the menstrual cycle.
Bloating: Bloating is another common symptom of endometriosis. This can be a result of the endometrial tissue growing on the ovaries or intestines, leading to discomfort and a feeling of fullness in the abdominal area.
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
Diagnosis of endometriosis can be difficult, as the symptoms can be similar to other conditions such as ovarian cysts or pelvic inflammatory disease. However, there are several tests that can be performed to diagnose endometriosis.
Pelvic exam: A pelvic exam can help your doctor determine if you have endometriosis. During the exam, your doctor will feel for tenderness and discomfort in the pelvic area and will also check for cysts on the ovaries.
Ultrasound: An ultrasound can help your doctor determine if you have endometriosis. During the ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are used to create images of the inside of the body, including the pelvic area.
Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that is used to diagnose and treat endometriosis. During the procedure, a small incision is made in the abdominal area and a thin, lighted tube (laparoscope) is inserted. This allows your doctor to see inside the abdomen and determine if you have endometriosis.
Treatment for Endometriosis
Treatment for endometriosis depends on the severity of the condition and the symptoms that you are experiencing. There are several options available, including medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes.