Often a painful disorder, endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis typically involves the ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining the pelvis, though in rare cases it may spread beyond the pelvic region.
In endometriosis, the endometrial tissue growing outside of the uterus continues to act as it normally would during your cycle — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. However, because this tissue has no way to get eliminated from your system, it becomes trapped, causing pain. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts may form which can irritate surrounding tissue and eventually developing scars and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping may begin before your period starts and extend several days into the cycle. Lower back and abdominal pain may accompany dysmenorrhea.
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination, particularly during your period.
- Excessive bleeding, including heavy periods (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
- You may also experience fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
The physicians at Mesa Women’s Health Care will work with you to determine the best course of action to alleviate your symptoms of endometriosis. Treatments may include:
- OTC pain medications (ibuprofen, Tylenol, Aleve)
- Hormone therapy, including contraceptives; Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (Gn-RH) agonists and antagonists; or Danazol to suppress the growth of the endometrium via blocking certain hormones and essentially preventing menstruation.
- Conservative surgery
- Assisted reproductive technologies if trying to become pregnant
*Information adapted from Mayo Clinic.