What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common gynaecological problem affecting women of reproductive age. It occurs when the tissues of the uterus start growing on the surfaces of other organs in the pelvis. The endometrium may grow on ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of uterus, pelvic cavity lining, vagina, cervix, vulva, bladder or rectum.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
You may experience painful cramps in the lower abdomen, back or pelvis during menstruation, heavy menstrual bleeding, painful bowel movements, or urination and infertility.
Causes of Endometriosis
The exact cause for endometriosis is not known, but it is thought to be inherited. A defect in the immune system, hormonal imbalance or a complication of other surgeries may cause the development of endometriosis.
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
Your gynaecologist will ask you about your general health and symptoms, and perform a pelvic examination to feel for the presence of large cysts or scars. An ultrasound scan may also be performed to look for ovarian cysts.
Treatment Options for Endometriosis
There are several treatment options available to reduce the pain as well as control heavy bleeding.
Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers may be helpful for mild pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed by your doctor in cases of severe pain.
Hormone treatment: Hormone treatment is recommended if there is a small growth and mild pain. Hormonal preparations can be taken in the form of pills, shots and nasal sprays. Birth control pills help to decrease the amount of menstrual bleeding.
Surgery: Surgery is an option if you have multiple growths, severe pain or fertility problems. Options include:
- Laparoscopy: During this surgery, growths and scar tissue are removed or cauterised. This is a minimally invasive technique and does not harm the healthy tissues around the growth.
- Laparotomy or major abdominal surgery: This involves a larger cut in the abdomen, which allows your doctor to reach and remove the endometrial growth.
- Hysterectomy: It is a surgery that involves the removal of the uterus. This procedure is done when there is severe damage to the uterus and only if you do not want to become pregnant in the future.