Before you can receive endometriosis treatment, you must receive a diagnosis. Endometriosis is most often diagnosed in women in their 30s and 40s. This chronic disease affects about 10% of women during their reproductive years. To get a diagnosis, your doctor will start with a routine pelvic exam. The gold standard for diagnosis of endometriosis involves direct visualization via a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy and potentially biopsy of areas that appear to be endometriosis. There are times when a diagnosis can be made after assessing symptoms.
The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, especially around your menstrual period. The pain can also increase over time. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Dysmenorrhea is pelvic pain and cramping that may begin immediately prior to your period and continue throughout the duration of your period. This pain may be in your pelvis, lower back, and abdomen.
- Painful Intercourse
- Pain during and after sex is a common symptom of endometriosis.
- Pain Going to the Bathroom
- Pain during bowel movements and urination, especially during your menstrual period.
- Excessive Bleeding
- You might experienceHeavy menstrual bleeding.
- Endometriosis of the fallopian tubes can be a source of infertility.
- Other Symptoms
- You can experience constipation, fatigue, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. The likelihood of these symptoms increases during your menstrual period.
Endometriosis treatments may involve medication, surgery, or a combination of both. You and your doctor will choose an appropriate approach depending on how severe your symptoms are and your future fertility plans.
Treatment options include:
Pain relievers such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen or naproxen
Hormone therapy can disrupt the growth of endometrial tissue during your cycle. Symptoms may return once therapy is discontinued, but this type of treatment is one of the easiest and safest.
Different therapies include:
- Hormonal Contraceptives
- Contraceptives containing hormones help control the build-up of endometrial tissue. It will help you have a lighter, shorter menstrual period, it is also likely to reduce or eliminate pain.
- Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonist (GNRH) or GNRH Blockers
- An initial dose of GNRH Agonists (Lupron) causes an initial flare of symptoms, but then suppresses the hormonal system and prevents the growth of endometrial tissue. The newer GNRH blockers perform similarly and come in pill form. Both medications can be used for a limited duration as they put you at risk for osteoporosis and related disorders that occur with a lack of estrogen. The return of symptoms following the stop of these medications is variable, and some patients continue to experience prolonged relief even after the medication is stopped.
- Progestin Therapy
- Progestin therapies can halt menstruation and endometrial tissue growth. These therapies usually come in the form of contraceptives like IUDs, implants, and injections.
- Aromatase Inhibitors
- Aromatase inhibitors are a medication made to reduce the amount of estrogen in the body. They are often paired with progestin or a combined hormonal contraceptive to treat endometriosis.
If you have endometriosis and wish to become pregnant, surgery can be used to remove the excess endometrial tissues. Women who experience severe pain from the disorder may also benefit from the surgery.
If you no longer desired to become pregnant and symptoms are severe, for some women, the removal of the ovaries and uterus is an option. It is best to discuss the procedure fully with your doctor before proceeding.
Our women’s healthcare providers are passionate about ensuring that all patients receive professional, empathetic care. Our expansive network enables rapid coordination with a wide range of specialists. This way, we can ensure your individual needs are met. Contact Capital Women’s Care today to schedule your appointment.