Endometriosis, a painful condition which occurs when the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus itself, affects approximately 10% of all women of reproductive age. This painful condition, which can make becoming pregnant more difficult, is especially common among women in their thirties and forties. The top-rated team of women’s health experts at Total Woman Care in Elkin, North Carolina provide comprehensive care, including diagnosis and personalized treatment, for patients with endometriosis. To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
Endometriosis is the name of the disorder that occurs when the tissues that normally line the uterus, called endometrium, grow outside of the organ itself.
Women who are diagnosed with the condition may have endometrium growing on their ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the outside of their uterus; it may also be found along the tissues that line the pelvis. Common symptoms of endometriosis include:
Even when it’s outside the uterus, endometrium still acts as it normally would: It thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with every menstrual cycle.
But because these displaced tissues — also known as implants — have no way to exit your body, they often lead to the formation of scar tissue, ovarian cysts, or adhesions.
For most women, having endometriosis means living with chronic pelvic pain and heavy periods that interfere with normal activities. For some women, however, endometriosis impacts their ability to become pregnant.
Almost 40% of all women affected by infertility also have endometriosis, while as many as half of all women with endometriosis have difficulty becoming pregnant.
That’s because the chronic inflammation caused by endometriosis can damage both eggs and sperm, as well as prevent them from coming together. Women with mild to moderate endometriosis are generally advised not to delay having children, as the problem can worsen with age.
Endometriosis has also been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Although the overall risk remains relatively low, ovarian cancer does occur at higher than normal rates in women who have endometriosis.
Endometriosis can’t be cured, but there are a variety of ways to treat the symptoms and problems it causes. Women who have mild symptoms may need little more than an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or naproxen.
If you aren’t trying to become pregnant, using some form of progesterone-based hormonal medication can keep the condition from worsening and may also prevent the formation of new adhesions.
Extended-cycle or continuous-cycle hormonal birth control, both of which are available as a pill or an injection, can help stop bleeding and reduce or eliminate pain.
Women with more severe cases of endometriosis may require surgery to get significant pain relief and improved fertility. Surgery involves an operation to remove any implants. Because the condition usually re-develops over time, using hormonal medications after surgery can help delay its return.