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What is Endometriosis?

Our Omaha OBGYN Physicians can help diagnose and treat endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a common condition whereby tissue that acts like endometrial tissue develops outside the uterus. During the menstrual cycle, the tissue responds to hormonal changes and builds up and breaks down (just as the endometrium tissue that lines the uterus) resulting in internal bleeding. This process causes the tissue surrounding the endometriosis to become swollen and inflamed and thus cause scar tissue in the area.

Endometriosis can be particularly painful, and for some, even debilitating.

Endometriosis is considered to be one of the three major causes of female infertility. How it affects fertility is not completely understood, however, it is thought that the scar tissue from the endometriosis is able to impair the release of the egg from the ovary.

Symptoms

Though each person experiences symptoms differently, common symptoms may include:

  • Pain, like severe menstrual cramps that can be felt in the abdomen and lower back
  • Abnormal or heavy menstrual flow
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility
  • Painful urination and bowel movements during menstruation
  • Other gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation or diarrhea

Diagnosis

Diagnosis begins with your OB/GYN evaluating the medical history and performing a complete physical including a pelvic exam. A laparoscopy must be performed to provide a positive and certain diagnosis of the condition. The laparoscope enables the physician to determine the size, location and extent of the endometrial growths. 

Other exams commonly used in the diagnosis of the condition include a biopsy, ultrasounds, computed tomography (CT scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatments

Your OB/GYN at Methodist Physicians Clinic will determine the treatment based on your overall health and medical history; extent and cause of the condition; tolerance for medications or procedures; and the patient’s preference or opinion of treatment options presented.

Treatment may include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Watchful waiting to observe the course of the disease
  • Hormone therapy
  • Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to treat endometriosis. Surgery options may include:
  • Laparoscopy – removing the endometrial growth
  • Laparotomy – a more extensive surgery than a laparoscopy where as much displaced endometrium tissue is removed
  • Hysterectomy – surgery to remove the uterus (and possibly ovaries)