Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a disease of the women’s reproductive system. It occurs when endometrium – the tissue that lines the uterus or womb – grows outside of the uterus on other organs of the body. It is estimated that more than five million women in the U.S. have endometriosis. While it can occur during the teen years and in any woman who still has a menstrual period, it is most common in women in their 30s and 40s. Endometriosis may be found in up to half of women with significant pelvic pain or painful periods and up to 70 percent of women with infertility. 
 
The growth of the endometrium is benign, but it can cause women pain and discomfort.  Because the tissue that grows can expand and get larger with time, symptoms get worse. Symptoms include inflammation and scar tissue that can cause pelvic pain and infertility. Sometimes the endometrial tissue binds organs together or grows into the ovaries or blocks fallopian tubes.
 
Endometriosis can be found on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the outer surface of the uterus, the lining of the pelvic cavity, the vagina, the cervix and other parts of the body including the bowel, bladder and rectum.
 

Treatment of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition that affects quality of life. If a patient has no symptoms such as pain, or problems with fertility, then she may not need treatment. The degree of pain or fertility problems should determine what kind of treatment is warranted.
 
When a patient is experiencing only mild pain symptoms, or if the diagnosis of endometriosis isn’t clear, then medical treatment may be a good first option. Sometimes anti-inflammatory medications can help. This is not a good option for patients trying to conceive.
 

Surgical Options

Laparoscopic surgery can be very useful in both the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis. First, it helps to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis. All tissue removed at laparoscopy is sent for microscopic examination to confirm the diagnosis. Second, all endometriosis tissue can be removed during the same surgery.
 
Excision, or cutting out the disease, is the preferable way to treat endometriosis, primarily because it cures a patient of endometriosis.  It can be safer in terms of protecting underlying tissues.  It provides tissue to be analyzed to be sure that the diagnosis is correct. If there is strong suspicion of adenomyosis (endometriosis in the muscle of the uterus), then a hysterectomy may be appropriate.

 

See also Gynecologic Surgery.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to the Saint Peter's Better Health newsletter and receive the latest health news, community events, recipes, and more.

Give to Saint Peter's

Proceeds generated are used to provide assistance for the many capital and operating needs of Saint Peter's University Hospital. Donate TodayLearn More