Endometriosis is a common gynecologic disorder affecting 1 in 10 women. Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial cells (cells that grow inside the uterus) outside the uterus growing in the abdomen and pelvis. These normal cells in an abnormal area cause inflammation, scarring, pelvic pain, and infertility. Painful periods and pain with intercourse are the most common complaints that lead patients to seek care.
The goal of Endometriosis Awareness Month (March) is to empower women to seek care for these symptoms. Hurting is not normal and should be addressed to avoid missing out on routine activities due to pain, missing work, or avoiding sex. Unfortunately, a recent study shows that nearly half the patients diagnosed with endometriosis had suffered for more than 4 years prior to being diagnosed. Diagnosis is suspected based on symptoms of heavy painful periods or pain with intercourse. Definitive diagnosis is made by laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure where a camera is inserted into the abdomen to view the endometriosis. Treatment by removing the abnormal tissue and scarring can be started during this surgery. Surgery not only diagnoses endometriosis, but can also relieve many of its symptoms.
Endometriosis cannot be cured. However, with the combination of surgical and medical management, symptoms can be controlled resulting in improved quality of life. If you have pelvic pain or other symptoms of endometriosis, the first step is to talk to your gynecologist. Before your appointment, arm yourself with knowledge. Gather your medical records and write down your symptoms. Log how much pain you experience on an average day and how often; if there’s a time of day when symptoms are worse or better; if specific activities worsen or relieve the pain; or if the pain comes and goes. With this information, your treatment can be optimized with good relief of symptoms.
At Woodlands OBGYN Associates we have been diagnosing and treating endometriosis since 1992. If you are having any of these symptoms and would like an evaluation, please call our office at 281.364.9898. Additional information can be obtained at Woodlandsobgynassociates.com and at MeinEndo.com
Raj Syal, MD