What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is common, yet painful, health problem in women. The endometrium is the tissue that normally lines the uterus. When the endometrium grows outside of the uterus and on other areas of the body, endometriosis occurs. Most often, endometriosis is found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, and the tissues that hold the uterus in place. Other growth sites can include the vagina, cervix, vulva, bladder, bowel, or rectum. In rare cases, endometriosis can appear in the lungs, brain, and skin.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful menstrual cramps that get worse over time
- Chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis
- Uncomfortable intercourse
- Intestinal pain
- Painful bowel movements
- Bleeding or spotting during periods
- Digestive problems including diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or bloating, especially during periods
What are the causes?
The exact cause of this disease is unknown. The possible causes may include:
- Retrograde menstrual flow, which occurs when tissue that is shed during a period flows through the fallopian tube and into other areas of the body (i.e. pelvis).
- Genetic factors, as endometriosis tends to run in families and may be inherited.
- Estrogen, which appears to promote endometriosis. Researchers are looking into whether endometriosis is a problem with the body’s hormone system.
- Immune system disorders, such as a faulty immune system that fails to locate and destroy endometrial tissue that grows outside of the uterus.
- Surgery to the abdominal area (i.e. C-sections or hysterectomies), if endometrial tissue is picked up and moved by mistake. Endometrial tissue has been found in abdominal scars.
How is it diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any symptoms related to endometriosis, talk with your doctor. A pelvic exam, ultrasounds and MRIs, and laparoscopic surgery can all detect this condition. Surgery is the only way to be certain that you have endometriosis, as your doctor is able to look inside the pelvic area to see endometriosis tissue. Sometimes doctors can diagnose endometriosis just by seeing the growths; other times, a small tissue sample must be studied under a microscope to confirm it.
How is it treated?
If you’re not trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control can be used as a first step in the treatment. Hormonal treatments only work for as long as they are taken and they are best for women who do not suffer from severe pain or symptoms. If you are trying to get pregnant, other medicines can be used. Surgery is usually reserved as a treatment for severe symptoms only. During the operation, the surgeon can locate the areas of endometriosis and remove the patches.
Request an appointment in the San Fernando Valley
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, and you live in the greater LA area, schedule an appointment at Premier Women’s Health Associates. From our location in West Hills, we serve patients in Calabasas, West Lake, Thousand Oaks, and the surrounding areas. When you come in for your appointment, we will treat you with compassion and understanding, so that you can be fully aware of your overall health and wellness. You can request an appointment online by filling out the form on our website, or you give us a call at (818) 346-5000 to set up your appointment.