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Endometriosis is the term used to describe when the tissue that normally lines the uterus, the endometrium, grows outside the uterus.

Endometriosis can be found:

  • On or under the ovaries
  • On the fallopian tubes, which carry egg cells from the ovaries to the uterus
  • Behind the uterus
  • On the tissues that hold the uterus in place
  • On the bowels or bladder

Endometriosis can be very painful with symptoms including:

  • Extremely painful menstrual cramps which may even make it where a woman can’t function in her normal activities.
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain in the intestine or lower abdomen
  • Extremely heavy menstrual periods
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods.

 Endometriosis can also cause fertility problems where the extra tissue makes it difficult or impossible for a woman to become pregnant unless she is treated.

Diagnosis by a gynecologist is done through a simple surgery called a laparoscopy. A small camera is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision so the doctor can see where and how extensive the tissue has grown.

Treatment will depend on how severe the diagnosis is. Pain medicines may be enough for women with a mild case. Hormone therapy can also be an option for treatment of pain related to endometriosis.

Surgery can be an option as well. Some are used only to remove the endometriosis patches to relieve pain. However, the tissue can regrow and the pain returns. Other surgeries can affect a woman’s ability to have babies. Surgery options should be discussed carefully with your gynecologist.

If an endometriosis patient isn’t able to have children because of the disease, there are some options for in vitro fertilization following surgery. This is something that patients should also discuss with their gynecologist.


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