Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause painful periods and infertility

+  What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) that normally grows only inside the uterus begins to grow outside the uterus.  It can grow on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the outer surface of the uterus, or other places in the abdomen.  It causes an inflammatory reaction that can result in scar tissue inside the pelvis.  This scar tissue can cause pain and can cause infertility.

+  What Causes Endometriosis?

Unfortunately, we do not know the exact cause.  There are a number of theories.  One theory is that some menstrual fluid goes through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis.  There may be living cells in this menstrual fluid that can implant and grow in the pelvis.

+  What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms are painful periods, painful intercourse, and sometimes continuous pelvic pain. However, sometimes endometriosis does not cause any pain at all.  The only symptom of endometriosis may be infertility.

+  How is it Diagnosed?

The only way to accurately diagnose endometriosis is to see it at the time of surgery.  So it takes laparoscopy (an outpatient surgery) to diagnose it.   While doing surgery to diagnose it, endometriosis can also be treated with laser or cautery.

+  How is Endometriosis Treated?

It can be treated with medications such as birth control pills or injections of Lupron.  These medications stop the hormonal stimulation of the endometriosis imlants.  These treatments prevent pregnancy as well.  Endometriosis can also be treated surgically with laser or cautery.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis.

+  Will Treatment of Endometriosis help me to conceive?

For some women, treatment can improve the chance for pregnancy.  According to studies, surgical treatment can improve your chance for pregnancy.  If endometriosis is severe, in vitro fertilization can be necessary for pregnancy to occur, especially if there are significant pelvic adhesions.

For more information visit ASRM’s patient fact sheet HERE.  You can also read more about endomtriosis and the surgical treatments HERE.