Endometriosis is a common gynecological condition that occurs when tissue like the lining of the uterus grows on the outer surface of the uterus or on other nearby structures where it doesn’t belong.
Sometimes referred to as “endo,” this painful problem affects more than 6.5 million women of reproductive age — or about 11% of female adults — in the United States. In addition to being a primary cause of chronic pelvic pain for women in their 30s and 40s, endometriosis is also a leading cause of infertility.
Here at New Beginnings OB/GYN in Shenandoah, Texas, our expert women’s health team diagnoses endometriosis on a routine basis. To alleviate or even eliminate endo symptoms, we offer customized solutions that take your family planning desires into full account.
Endometriosis happens when tissue resembling the membrane that lines the inside of your uterus (endometrium) erroneously grows outside of the organ itself. The disorder can cause endometrium-like tissue to form on:
Commonly referred to as implants, these displaced endometrium-like tissues can also emerge on your cervix, vagina, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum.
Even when it exists outside the uterus, endometrium-like tissue still acts as it would normally: It thickens, breaks down, and bleeds through every menstrual cycle.
Because endometrial implants cannot exit your body, they remain in your pelvic area and trigger the formation of adhesions like scar tissue and ovarian cysts. The cyclical nature of endometrial implants can give rise to various disruptive symptoms.
Just as the severity of endometriosis varies among individuals, so do its symptoms. Telltale signs of the disorder include:
If there’s one symptom that occurs in virtually every endometriosis case, it’s pain. Women with endometriosis may experience different types of pain, including:
Many women also experience pain when urinating or passing bowel movements (dyschezia), especially during their periods.
Abnormal uterine bleeding, including heavy menstrual bleeding or spotting between periods, is a common endometriosis symptom. Because various underlying problems can cause abnormal bleeding, you should always have a doctor look into it.
Up to half of all women who have infertility have endometriosis, which can make it harder or impossible to get pregnant by:
Some women find out they have endometriosis when they visit the doctor for fertility issues.
Endometriosis also commonly triggers digestive problems, especially during menstruation. Many women report monthly bouts of diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea.
On its own, persistent fatigue isn’t a telltale sign of endometriosis. But if you have one or more of the previous symptoms and often feel drained, your fatigue issues may be directly related to your gynecological condition.
Endo symptoms may be constant or cyclical, meaning they worsen before and during your period and then improve afterward.
If these symptoms sound familiar, schedule an appointment with our team. We can determine whether you have endometriosis, or if you may have another condition like fibroids, which can cause pelvic pain and pressure, lower back pain, and abnormal bleeding.
It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no connection between endometriosis severity and symptom severity. Women with mild endometrial damage may develop severe symptoms, while those with significant disease may not experience significant symptoms.
All suspected cases of endometriosis are confirmed through a diagnostic laparoscopy, a minor, minimally invasive surgery that allows us to look for endometrial implants and take a confirming biopsy of the suspect tissue.
Endometrial implants may be benign (noncancerous), but the symptoms they cause and their profound effect on your fertility can have a major impact on your life. Although we can’t cure the condition, we can help you manage your symptoms and take steps to protect your fertility. Depending on your needs, treatment may include: