Endometriosis is gynecological condition that affects between 3% and 10% of reproductive aged women. UCLA Obstetrics and Gynecology states that endometriosis occurs when, “the tissue that makes up the uterine lining (the lining of the womb) is present on other organs inside your body.”
While some women may have no symptoms at all, the usual symptoms are often: lower abdomen pain, painful periods, painful sexual intercourse, painful bladder and bowel movements, bloating, constipation, bloody urine, painful urination, and difficulty getting pregnant. It is reported that 20 to 40% of women diagnosed with infertility are also diagnosed with endometriosis.
To confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis, several stages of testing are necessary as there is no one definitive test for endometriosis. The doctor may start with a pelvic exam then follow up with an ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), then a laparoscopy which is a minimally invasive procedure in which an incision is made close to the navel to see inside the abdomen to look for any signs of endometriosis and to possibly extract tissue samples for further testing.
Treatment for endometriosis depends on the severity of symptoms and if the goal is to get pregnant or not. Pain is typical for endometriosis sufferers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are commonly recommended. Hormone therapy and conservative surgery are the most common treatments for women living with endometriosis. For those women trying to get pregnant, fertility treatments supervised by a fertility specialist can work with them through their endometriosis. For those women who no longer wish to procreate, a hysterectomy with the removal of the ovaries could be the most effective treatment for endometriosis. However, doctors advise that women consider all the precautions before considering this option.