The female body is quite extraordinary because it can create and sustain life. Unfortunately, certain conditions affect the reproductive system’s function and a woman’s overall well-being. Endometriosis, for example, affects about 1 in every 10 women during their reproductive years.

Even though it is so common, most women do not even understand endometriosis. This guide and your gynecologist will help you understand the signs and treatment options for endometriosis.

Understand Endometriosis

Before you can understand the signs and treatments, you need to understand what exactly endometriosis is. Basically, the condition occurs when the endometrium, or the lining of the uterus, grows outside the uterus.

For example, the endometriosis may build up on the exterior of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowels, and even the bladder. The buildup of this tissue can cause inflammation and scar tissue. 

Signs of Endometriosis

Each case is different, but most women with endometriosis experience irregular, heavy, and painful periods.

Discomfort in and around the pelvis will occur as your body tries to rid itself of the thickened endometrial lining that has built up on other areas of the reproductive system. Bleeding will be heavier than normal, as well. Many women will also experience bleeding in between their normal periods.

Because the scar tissue builds up on the uterus and other areas of the pelvis, women with endometriosis will also experience pain and discomfort in the abdomen and lower back. Pain during urination and bowel movements will also often occur. 

Most women will also experience excessive fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting during menstruation.

Between 30 and 50 percent of women with endometriosis may struggle to conceive, too, which can be one of the more emotionally overwhelming side effects of the condition. Infertility may be an issue because the endometrial tissue scars the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This scarring reduces egg quality and the egg’s fertilization ability.

If you have experienced any of the signs of endometriosis, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist.

A conversation about your symptoms and a pelvic exam may be enough to diagnose the disorder. However, a traditional or vaginal ultrasound may be necessary to detect endometrial tissue in abnormal locations.

Treatment Options for Endometriosis

A cure is not currently available, but you can manage the pain and discomfort of endometriosis.

Treatment for your specific case will depend on a few factors, including severity and the ways the symptoms affect your daily life.

Prescription medications for pain relief can be helpful for managing your endometrial pain.

Also, hormone therapy may be recommended. Birth control pills, intrauterine devices, or hormone medications may help balance hormones. This rebalancing helps break down the thick endometrial tissue, which will reduce your pain and discomfort.

Surgery to remove the endometrial implants on the various parts of your reproductive system may also be necessary if the endometriosis causes enormous pain that affects your daily life or infertility.

In many cases, surgery can be conducted laparoscopically, which only requires a small incision near the navel. Laparoscopic surgery can remove this endometrial tissue while preserving your reproductive organs.

If your endometriosis is more severe and you have no desire to become pregnant, a hysterectomy may be a better option. This surgery removes the uterus and possibly the cervix and ovaries.

A hysterectomy can be completed traditionally, which involves a large incision in the abdomen or laparoscopically, which requires a small incision near the navel. A vaginal hysterectomy, which involves removing the uterus through the vagina, may also be a possible option.

Endometriosis is not a life-threatening disorder, but it can affect your life in many ways. For more information, contact Rappahannock Women’s Health Center today.