Q: How do I know if I have endometriosis, and what treatment options are available?
A: Endometriosis is a condition in which the cells that normally line the inside of the uterus invade other structures in the pelvis such as the ovaries, tubes, bladder and intestines. When a woman with endometriosis has her menstrual cycle, she not only bleeds from the lining of her uterus but also from the endometriosis lesions inside her body. This may cause severe pain, scarring and infertility.
Signs of endometriosis include cyclic pelvic pain, painful periods, infertility and abnormal bleeding. Because endometriosis is a hormonally related disease, birth control pills, IUD and injections have been shown to be helpful in treating both pain and associated abnormal bleeding. However, the most effective treatment is a surgical procedure to remove the disease. This can be done by laparoscopy, a surgery in which tiny incisions on the abdomen are used to place a camera and surgical instruments. In severe cases, or for women who are no longer attempting to have children, a hysterectomy may be the best option if all other treatments have been considered. If you think you have endometriosis, the first step is to talk with your doctor about your pain.
— Dr. Shanti Mohling, UT Erlanger Women's Health Specialists; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society