Your Guide to Endometriosis
Who Can Get Endometriosis?
Any woman who has menstrual periods can get endometriosis. Endometriosis occurs most often between the ages of 25 and 40, but it also can occur in younger women. The condition is most common in women who have not had children.
Is Endometriosis Cancer?
Endometriosis is not cancer. Endometriosis also does not increase a woman's risk for uterine or other cancers.
How Do I Know If I Have Endometriosis?
If you have any symptoms of endometriosis or are having difficulty becoming pregnant, contact your doctor. After obtaining a thorough medical history, he or she will perform a routine physical and a pelvic exam.
If endometriosis is suspected, you may need to have a procedure called diagnostic laparoscopy. In this procedure, the doctor inserts a small tube attached to a camera through an incision in the abdomen. He or she examines the reproductive organs and pelvic cavity using the device. A sample of tissue may also be gathered for testing, called a biopsy. However, because laparoscopy has some risks, often the diagnosis of endometriosis is presumed and a treatment plan is started without doing this procedure.
Can Endometriosis Be Cured?
There is no known cure for endometriosis. Most of the time, once effective management of the symptoms has been determined, the treatment will continue until menopause unless you are trying to get pregnant. There are very effective treatments to reduce the size of tissue growth and to relieve painful symptoms. Symptoms lessen or cease during pregnancy and the menopause. This is because the monthly bleeding cycle which causes the growths or nodules does not occur. The hormonal medications used to treat endometriosis work by lessening or attempting to stop the monthly menstrual cycle, mimicking the body’s response to pregnancy or menopause. When this happens, the growths are less likely to bleed, leading to less inflammation and subsequent scarring or cyst formation.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis without symptoms, or with mild symptoms, usually does not require medical treatment. Your doctor may choose to follow you with frequent examinations.
When necessary, treatment may vary depending on whether you are being treated for pain or infertility secondary to the endometriosis.