Endometriosis Q & A
by David Ahdoot, MD, FACOG
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a medical condition affecting the female reproductive system that causes the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus to start growing in other parts of the body. The endometrial growths can appear in any area, but they are, by far, the most commonly seen in other areas of the female reproductive system. Endometrial growth is often found on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, for example.
Who Is at Risk for Endometriosis?
Women who are in their reproductive years — from first menstruation to the beginning of menopause — are most at risk for endometriosis. Endometriosis may also run in families, so if the patient’s mother and grandmother had it, she is more likely to have it herself.
What Are the Main Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Pelvic pain, which can be quite severe, is one of the most obvious signs of endometriosis. The pain is most severe during menstruation, ovulation and, sometimes, during sexual intercourse. While it is not as common, some women may experience few symptoms yet still have endometriosis. In cases like these, endometriosis may not be diagnosed unless the woman has problems getting pregnant.
What Is the Process for Diagnosing Endometriosis?
The doctor will keep track of all a patient’s symptoms to form an opinion that endometriosis is likely. Dr. Ahdoot can make a definitive diagnosis with a short surgery known as a “laparoscopy.” During the laparoscopy, the doctor will be able to actually see the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes to check for endometrial growth.
What Are the Treatments for Endometriosis?
At this time, no cure exists for endometriosis, but several treatments can provide considerable relief from the symptoms. For severe pain, patients may be able to get relief from prescription medication. Ultimately, many women choose a longer term treatment such as hormone therapy. Hormone therapy can regulate the level of endometrial tissue, preventing overgrowth and therefore preventing symptoms. If hormone therapy is not effective, a laparoscopic surgical procedure may be helpful in removing endometrial growths.