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    Understanding Endometriosis -- Diagnosis and Treatment

    How Do I Know If I Have Endometriosis?

    Your doctor will ask you questions and do a pelvic exam. But your doctor won't know for sure that it's endometriosis until a surgeon can examine your body internally.

    The most common procedure to diagnose endometriosis is called laparoscopy. During this surgery a thin, lighted tube is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision.

    Understanding Endometriosis

    Find out more about endometriosis:

    Basics

    Symptoms

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Prevention

    Women are usually unconscious when it's done. Many doctors remove a small piece of tissue and test it to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis.

    What Are the Treatments for Endometriosis?

    There are three ways to treat endometriosis: watchful waiting, hormone treatments, and surgery. The choice depends on a number of factors including the woman's symptoms, her age, whether fertility is a factor, and the severity of the disease. Menopause usually ends the symptoms, but in women who take estrogen during and after menopause, symptoms may continue.

    In watchful waiting, nothing is done. Instead, your doctor regularly checks on your health and symptoms to see if they get worse. Watchful waiting is a good option for women with mild disease who want to bear children, and women approaching menopause. For women who can conceive and want to have a child, pregnancy may alleviate symptoms, probably because it temporarily stops menstrual cycles. In some women, endometriosis symptoms do not return after they have given birth.

    As a hormone treatment, your doctor may have you take birth control pills. This treatment can be effective, but in many cases symptoms return after you stop taking the pill.

    If birth control pills don't help, your doctor may try other hormone treatments. Two of them are medroxyprogesterone (Provera) and gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (Lupron, Synarel, and Zoladex). Two others are danazol and gestrinone, which are made from male hormones.

    Unfortunately, hormone treatments have side effects such as weight gain, depression, acne, increased body hair, and irregular bleeding. Also, if you stop taking them, your symptoms may come back.

    Pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen may help the cramps but will not get rid of the endometriosis tissue that is causing the cramps

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