Table of Contents:
- Endometriosis symptoms
- Endometriosis treatment
- What causes endometriosis
- What is endometriosis
- Endometriosis stages
- Endometriosis complications
- Risk factors
- Endometriosis prognosis (outlook)
Part 1 of 9
The symptoms of endometriosis
vary. Some women experience mild symptoms, but others can have moderate to
severe symptoms. The severity of your pain doesn’t indicate the degree or stage
of the condition. You may have a mild form of the disease, yet suffer from
agonizing pain. It’s also possible to have a severe form and have very little
Pelvic pain is the most common
symptom of endometriosis. You may also have the following symptoms:
- painful periods
- pain in the lower abdomen before and during menstruation
- cramps one or two weeks around menstruation
- heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
- pain following sexual intercourse
- discomfort with bowel movements
- lower back pain that may occur at any time during
your menstrual cycle
You may also have no symptoms.
It’s important that you get yearly gynecological exams. This will allow your
gynecologist to monitor any changes. This is particularly important if you have
two or more symptoms.
Part 2 of 9
Understandably, you want quick
relief from pain and other symptoms of endometriosis. This condition can
disrupt your life if it’s left untreated. Endometriosis has no cure. Medical
and surgical options are available to help reduce your symptoms and manage any
potential complications. Your doctor may first try conservative treatments.
They may then recommend surgery if your condition doesn’t improve.
Everyone reacts differently to
these treatment options. Your doctor will help you find the one that works best
for you. Treatment options include:
Over-the-counter pain medications
such as ibuprofen can be used, but these aren’t effective in all cases.
Taking supplemental hormones can
sometimes relieve pain. This therapy helps your body to regulate the monthly
changes in hormones that promote the tissue growth that occurs when you have
Hormonal contraceptives decrease
fertility by preventing the monthly growth and buildup of endometrial tissue.
Birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings can reduce or even eliminate
the pain in less severe endometriosis.
hormone (GRNH) agonists and antagonists
Women take what are called
gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists to block the
production of estrogens that stimulate the ovary. Estrogen is the hormone
that’s mainly responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics.
This prevents menstruation and creates an artificial menopause. The therapy has
side effects like vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Taking small doses of
estrogen and progesterone at the same time can help to limit or prevent these
Danazol is another medication
used to stop menstruation and reduce symptoms. However, it can have side
effects including acne and hirsutism, which is abnormal hair growth on your
face and body.
(Depo-Provera) injection is also effective in stopping menstruation. It stops
the growth of endometrial implants. It relieves pain and other symptoms.
However, it can also decrease bone production, cause weight gain, and lead to
depression in some cases.
Conservative surgery is for women
who want to get pregnant or suffer from severe pain. The goal of conservative
surgery is to remove or destroy endometrial growths without damaging your
This can be done through
traditional open surgery, in which endometrial growths are removed through a
Laparoscopy, a less invasive
surgery, is another option. Your surgeon will make some small incisions in your
abdomen to remove the growths in this type of surgery.
Your doctor may recommend a total
hysterectomy as a last resort if your condition doesn’t improve with other
treatments. During a total hysterectomy, your surgeon will remove your uterus
and cervix. Your doctor will also remove your ovaries because they make
estrogen and estrogen causes the growth of endometrial tissue.
You’ll be unable to get pregnant
after a hysterectomy. Get a second opinion before agreeing to surgery if you’re
thinking about starting a family.
Part 3 of 9
What causes endometriosis
During a regular menstrual cycle,
your body sheds the lining of your uterus. This allows menstrual blood to flow
from your uterus through the small opening in the cervix and out through your
Endometriosis often occurs due to
a process called retrograde menstruation. This happens when menstrual blood
flows back through your fallopian tubes into your pelvic cavity instead of
leaving your body.
The displaced endometrial cells
then stick to your pelvic walls and the surfaces of your pelvic organs, such as
your bladder, ovaries, and rectum. They continue to grow, thicken, and bleed
over the course of your menstrual cycle. It’s also possible for the menstrual
blood to leak into the pelvic cavity through a surgical scar, such as after a
Doctors believe the condition may
also occur if small areas of your abdomen convert into endometrial tissue. This
may happen because cells in your abdomen grow from embryonic cells, which can
change shape and act like endometrial cells. It’s not known why this occurs.
Part 4 of 9
What is endometriosis
Endometriosis is a disorder in
which the tissue that forms the lining of your uterus grows outside of your
uterine cavity. The lining of your uterus is called the endometrium.
Endometriosis occurs when the
endometrium grows on your ovaries, bowel, and tissues lining your pelvis. It’s
unusual for endometrial tissue to spread beyond your pelvic region, but it’s
not impossible. Endometrial tissue growing outside of your uterus is known as
an endometrial implant.
The hormonal changes of your
menstrual cycle affect the misplaced endometrial tissue. This means the tissue
will grow, thicken, and break down. Over time, the tissue that has broken down
has nowhere to go and becomes trapped in your pelvis.
This tissue trapped in your
pelvis can cause:
- scar formation
- adhesions, in which tissue binds your pelvic organs
- severe pain during your periods
- fertility problems
Endometriosis is a common
gynecological condition. You’re not alone if you suffer from this disorder.
Part 5 of 9
Endometriosis has four stages or
types. It can be any of the following:
Different factors determine the
stage of the disorder. These factors can include the:
- depth of the endometrial implants
Stage I: Minimal
In minimal endometriosis, there
are small lesions, or wounds, and shallow endometrial implants on your ovary.
There may also be inflammation in or around your pelvic cavity.
Stage 2: Mild
Mild endometriosis involves light
lesions and shallow implants on an ovary and the pelvic lining.
Moderate endometriosis involves
deep implants on your ovary and pelvic lining. There can also be more lesions.
Stage 4: Severe
The most severe stage of
endometriosis involves deep implants on your pelvic lining and ovaries. There
may also be lesions on your fallopian tubes and bowels.
Part 6 of 9
The symptoms of endometriosis can
be similar to the symptoms of other conditions, such as ovarian cysts and
pelvic inflammatory disease. Treating your pain requires an accurate diagnosis.
Your doctor will perform one or
more of the following tests:
Your doctor will note your
symptoms and personal or family history of endometriosis. A general health
assessment may also be performed to determine if there are any other signs of a
During a pelvic exam, your doctor
will manually feel your abdomen for cysts or scars behind the uterus.
Your doctor may use a
transvaginal ultrasound or an abdominal ultrasound. In a transvaginal
ultrasound, a transducer is inserted into your vagina. Both types of ultrasound
provide images of your reproductive organs. They can help your doctor identify
cysts associated with endometriosis, but they aren’t effective in ruling out
The only certain method for
identifying endometriosis is by viewing it directly. This is done by a minor
surgical procedure known as a laparoscopy.
Part 7 of 9
Having issues with fertility is
the most serious complication. Women with milder forms of endometriosis may be
able to conceive and carry a baby to term. According to the Mayo Clinic, about one-third to one-half of
women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant.
Medications don’t improve
fertility. Some women have been able to conceive after having endometrial
tissue surgically removed. If this doesn’t work in your case, you may want to
consider fertility treatments or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help improve
your chances of having a baby.
You may want to consider having
children sooner rather than later if you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis
and you want children. Your symptoms may worsen over time. This can make it
difficult to conceive on your own. Talk to your doctor to help understand your
Part 8 of 9
About 2 to 10 percent of childbearing women
suffer from endometriosis. It usually develops years after the start of your
menstrual cycle. This condition can be painful, but understanding the risk
factors can help you determine whether you’re susceptible to this condition and
when you should talk to your doctor.
Women of all ages are at risk for
endometriosis. It usually affects women age 25 to 40.
Talk to your doctor if you have a
family member who has endometriosis. You may have a higher risk of developing
Pregnancy seems to protect women
against endometriosis. Women who haven’t had children run a greater risk of
developing the disorder. However, endometriosis can still occur in women who’ve
Talk to your doctor if you have
problems regarding your menses. These issues can include shorter cycles,
heavier and longer periods, or you began menstruating at a young age. These
factors may place you at higher risk.
Part 9 of 9
Endometriosis prognosis (outlook)
Endometriosis is a chronic condition
with no cure. But this doesn’t mean the condition has to impact your daily
life. There are effective treatments to manage pain and fertility issues, such
as medications, hormone therapy, or surgery. The symptoms of endometriosis
usually improve after menopause.