There are more than 200,000 cases of endometriosis in the U.S. each year. While the condition is treatable by a medical professional, not all women affected know they have it. This painful condition affects the tissues that normally line the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis develops when these tissues begin to grow somewhere else in the body.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is defined as the abnormal growth of endometrial cells outside the uterus. The word endometriosis is derived from the word “endometrium,” which refers to the uterine lining.
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, tissues build up in the uterus and shed if she does not become pregnant. Women who develop endometriosis develop these tissues outside of the uterus on other reproductive organs inside the pelvis or abdomen. The misplaced tissues continue to respond to hormonal changes during menstrual cycles, resulting in bleeding inside the pelvis.
Common Symptoms Of Endometriosis
The exact cause of endometriosis is still unknown. However, the condition is more common in women experiencing infertility. Many women with endometriosis do not have any symptoms. Those that do may experience:
- Pelvic pain that worsens during menstruation
- Painful urination or bowel movements
- Diarrhea, constipation or bloating
- Painful intercourse
- Painful pelvic examinations
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Chronic lower back pain
- Periods that last longer than seven days
Managing & Treating Endometriosis
Treatment is available for women suffering from endometriosis. Medication or surgery is the most common treatment option. Hormone therapy may also be recommended to slow down endometrial tissue growth and reduce or eliminate the pain of endometriosis. Hormonal contraceptives may also be prescribed to control the hormones responsible for the buildup of endometrial tissue.
Other therapies are available for women with endometriosis, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) antagonists and agonists which block certain hormones to prevent menstruation. Progestin therapy can also stop menstrual periods and relieve endometriosis symptoms. Aromatase inhibitors reduce the amount of estrogen in the body and can be used in combination with hormonal contraceptives to treat endometriosis.
If you are trying to get pregnant, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the misplaced tissues while preserving the uterus and ovaries. This type of surgery is most commonly performed laparoscopically.
Schedule An Appointment With Raleigh Gynecology
At Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness, we understand the pain and distress that endometriosis can cause. That is why we work hard to help women of all ages get the treatment they need to better manage their condition. Contact our practice today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.