What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where endometrial tissue is found outside the uterus. It is ‘trapped’ in the pelvic area and lower tummy (abdomen) and, rarely, in other areas in the body. Ovarian endometriomas, also known as ‘chocolate cysts‘, contain thick, old blood that appears as a brown fluid.
Where Does Endometriosis Occur?
- Fallopian Tubes
- Outer uterus surfaces
- Bladder, Ureters, Intestines and rectum
- Behind the uterus
Endometriosis responds to the levels of estrogen changes. Endometriosis acts similarly to a menstrual cycle and causing bleeding via the uterine lining. The surrounding tissue to the problem area can end up becoming irritated, inflamed and even swollen causing discomfort and additional pain. Scar tissue can develop overtime from persistent bleeding caused by endometriosis.
Endometriosis and Infertility
There is a definite connection between infertility and endometriosis. About 40 percent of women who have trouble conceiving have endometriosis. Sperm or eggs can be damaged from the inflammation caused by endometriosis. It can also interfere with their movement through the fallopian tubes and uterus. Scar tissue that develops can block their path, as well. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is usually the best plan for infertility patients with endometriosis, and the prognosis is surprisingly good.
Signs & Symptoms
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful menstruation
- Pain during intercourse
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Painful urination
- Painful bowel movements
Endometriosis is usually confirmed by a laparoscopy. This is a small operation that involves making a small cut, under anesthesia, in the abdominal wall below the belly button. A thin, telescope-like instrument (a laparoscope) is pushed through the skin to look inside. Patches of endometriosis can be seen by the doctor.
Sometimes an operation is advised to remove some of the larger patches of endometriosis. There are various techniques that can be used. Most commonly, a thin telescope-like instrument (a laparoscope) is pushed through a small cut in the abdomen. The surgeon then uses the laparoscope to see inside the abdomen and to direct heat, laser, or a beam of special helium gas to destroy patches of endometriosis. Cysts can also be removed via this kind of ‘laparoscopic surgery’ (keyhole surgery). Sometimes a more traditional operation is done with a larger cut to the abdomen to remove larger patches or cysts.