What is Endometriosis?
Typically the inner lining of the uterus is shed with each menstrual cycle. Endometriosis is a condition that occurs in women when the inner uterus lining starts to grow outside of the uterus, behind the uterus, on the bowels, or on the bladder. This results in the appearance of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, which causes pelvic pain. Endometriosis is most commonly diagnosed among women in their 30s and 40s, but the onset of the condition typically starts during reproductive years.
Dr. Tubbs can help diagnose your symptoms as endometriosis and determine the best treatment for you.
Causes of Endometriosis
There are multiple theories over the root causes of endometriosis.
The older theories of the spreading of cells from the uterus via the lymph nodes and blood vessels do not seem to be supported by any factual evidence. Furthermore, we know that endometrial cells from the uterus go into the pelvis during menstruation. This process is called retrograde menstruation. Because it happens so often and relatively few women have endometriosis, there must be factors at work other than retrograde menstruation. These other factors include alterations in inflammatory processes, immunologic dysfunction, and various genetic factors.
Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptoms that women experience if they have endometriosis include pain, spotting in between periods, heavy periods, infertility, and digestive problems. Not all women experience symptoms, but pain is the most common symptom. Other symptoms can include but are not limited to:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Chronic pelvic pain the lower abdomen or intestines
- Chronic fatigue
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods
- Longer and heaver menstruation
Pain from endometriosis is caused by the benign growth of the endometrial lining. These growths bleed in the same way as your uterus during your period. Other problems can result such as your Fallopian tubes being blocked, inflammation, and scar tissue around your uterus, intestines, or bladder.
In addition to discussing your symptoms with your gynecologist, he or she may suggest another exam to diagnosis endometriosis. During a pelvic exam, Dr. Tubbs may be able to feel for large cysts or scars behind your uterus. An ultrasound or MRI may also be done by our team to check for ovarian cysts.
Surgery is the only way to confirm that you have endometriosis. Dr. Tubbs may perform a laparoscopic procedure to see or biopsy the endometriosis growths.
How is Endometriosis Managed and Treated?
Endometriosis treatments depend on the condition’s severity. Since there is no cure for endometriosis, talk with Dr. Tubbs about your situation and the best endometriosis management options for you. Because some treatments can end your fertility, one consideration is if you want to have children in the future.
- If you are not trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control is usually the first step to help reduce pain and bleeding. Hormone therapy is also used in some cases to balance and regulate the hormones that can worsen endometriosis.
- If you are trying to get pregnant there are other hormonal medications that may help treat endometriosis. When birth control isn’t an option, pain medications may also be suggested for your symptoms. Some of the medications are anti-inflammatory and will focus on reducing inflammation and pain.
- Surgery is typically recommended only when symptoms are very severe, other treatments haven’t worked, or you are having infertility problems. During surgery, the endometriosis growths are removed, which provides short term relief from pain.
If you’re experiencing severe pelvic pain related to your period, are having problems with infertility, or suffer from heavy periods, you may have endometriosis. Schedule an appointment to talk Dr. Tubbs at Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology in Colorado Springs at today.