Endometriosis, an often painful disorder of the female reproductive system, is most common in women in their 30s and 40s. For many Dallas women, a diagnosis of endometriosis can often be confusing or worrisome — and for good reason.
What is endometriosis?
With endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the body. It’s most commonly found in the abdomen, but in rare cases, endometrial cells are found in organs far from the pelvis. Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, especially during menstruation and intercourse, though many women have no symptoms at all. It has been linked to infertility, making early detection and treatment important for Dallas women.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Symptoms of endometriosis most often involve pelvic pain, which can worsen during intercourse and periods.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, typically associated with periods. While some level of pain is a usual occurrence for most during their periods, those with endometriosis often describe menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual, and may also begin before the period and extend several days into it. Lower back and abdominal pain may increase as well.
Pain with intercourse
Unusual pain during or after intercourse is another common sign of endometriosis.
Pain with bowel movements or urination
Noticeable levels of unusual pain when using the bathroom is one the more common symptoms of endometriosis.
Those with endometriosis often experience heavy bleeding during periods and may even have bleeding between periods.
Women who are having problems with fertility alongside some of the above symptoms may have endometriosis — which may be the possible cause of the infertility in the first place.
The Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown. Some women experience retrograde menstruation in which menstrual blood flows out of the fallopian tubes into the abdominal cavity. It’s possible that endometrial cells escape into the bloodstream and colonize other areas of the body, or that endometrial cells are transferred from the uterus to other parts of the body during abdominal surgery. Immune system disorders may also be a possible cause of endometriosis.
The Diagnosis of Endometriosis
In order to diagnose endometriosis, your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms, the location of any pain, and when the pain occurs.
Tests to check for physical clues of endometriosis include:
During a pelvic exam, your gynecologist will examine the size and position of your ovaries, uterus, cervix, and vagina for abnormalities, such as cysts on your reproductive organs or scars behind your uterus.
Laparoscopy is a relatively quick telescopic examination of the pelvic organs that is done with a general anesthetic. During the examination, a special telescope is inserted just below the belly button or umbilicus into the abdominal cavity, allowing for visual inspection of the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, bowels, and bladder. Biopsies may be taken to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis.
Treatment Options for Endometriosis
Treatment for endometriosis is dependent on how severe symptoms are and whether you hope to become pregnant. Most options generally involve medications or surgical procedures.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, which may be combined with hormone therapy if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
Supplemental hormones can be effective in reducing or eliminating the pain of endometriosis. Hormone medication can often slow endometrial tissue growth and/or prevent new implants of endometrial tissue.
For those who may still hope to become pregnant or have failed to find relief from endometriosis pain with other treatments, surgery may be recommended. This often involves laparoscopic surgery, which is similar to the process typically used to diagnose endometriosis.
Endometriosis Treatment in Dallas
If you think you may be dealing with signs and symptoms of endometriosis, it’s important that you contact us as soon as possible to set up an appointment with our endometriosis specialists in Dallas.
At Walnut Hill OBGYN Associates, we truly understand the stress and anxiety that can come with a diagnosis of endometriosis. Your doctor and nurse will work with you one on one to make sure you understand all available options and your best course of endometriosis treatment while protecting your future health.