One in ten women are diagnosed with endometriosis, with a number of stages indicating the severity of the condition. In some cases, endometriosis leads to pain that requires treatment and management with medication or surgery. In other cases, it can also impact fertility.
Symptoms of endometriosis
While some patients do not experience pain, and thus may not recognise their condition, there are a few common symptoms of endometriosis that can be debilitating. These symptoms are:
- Painful or abnormal periods, including spotting, heavy bleeding and cramps before and during menstruation
- Pain during ovulation
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Pain in the pelvic area, lower back or legs
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Difficulty falling pregnant
Treatment for endometriosis
Treatment can be dependant on the concerns the patient has. With pain treatment, surgery may not be necessary, while treatment for fertility may require other treatments.
Pain killers: Some over the counter pain killers can actually help temporarily treat the pain that comes with heavy periods and cramping. In some cases, a doctor can prescribe other pain killers.
Hormonal treatment: Medication like birth control can suppress the normal menstrual cycle, stopping or slowing down endometriosis cell growth. The pill is the most common hormonal treatment.
Laparoscopy: A laparoscopy involves making an incision in the abdomen so a viewing instrument (laparoscope) can determine whether cysts and cells are present. This surgery is usually suggested to initially diagnose the patient with endometriosis, but the surgeon can usually remove all visible cysts and cells during the surgery.
Hysterectomy: For severe cases that cannot be treated with other methods, more extensive surgery may be necessary. A hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries may be necessary to remove dangerous cysts.
Bowel surgery: If cells are infiltrating the bowel it can lead to a number of symptoms. Doctors may suggest removing the affected part of the bowel, but it is an uncommon treatment.
While medication and hormones will not help with fertility, surgery has been shown to improve fertility in women, though not proven. Removal of cysts on the ovaries may help fertility, however, it is recommended that other causes are looked for and treated.
Can endometriosis be cured permanently?
While there is no cure for endometriosis, pain killers and hormone therapy can manage the painful symptoms of the condition. Removal of ovaries and the uterus can also relieve debilitating pain.
If you have concerns with heavy periods, cramping or pelvic pain, speak to your doctor as soon as possible. A GP can speak to you about possible testing or diagnosis. New and existing patients can call Omni Gynaecare on 1300 851 968.