Endometriosis is a common and under-diagnosed gynecological condition in women, affecting an estimated 2 to 10 percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 40.
Endometriosis is derived from the word “endometrium,” which is the tissue that lines the uterus. Individuals with endometriosis have endometrial-type tissue outside of the uterus.
This is a painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside of your uterus. This generally involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis. In some rare cases, endometrial-like tissue may be found beyond the area where pelvic organs are located.
With endometriosis, the endometrial-like tissue mimics endometrial tissue and thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. However, problems occur because the tissue has no way to exit the body and becomes trapped.This leads to inflammation, swelling, and scarring of the normal tissue surrounding the endometriosis implants. The irritated surrounding tissue can form bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called endometriomas may form.
Endometriosis can cause varying levels of pain, especially during menstrual periods.
To evaluate your symptoms, Dr. Poppen will discuss your medical history and perform a complete pelvic exam. Following the evaluation, an ultrasound is typically ordered to look for other causes of your symptoms. If no other identifiable cause can be found, the next step is laparoscopic evaluation and treatment. Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a thin tube with a camera at the end, is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision. One or two additional small incisions are made to allow surgical instruments to be placed in the abdomen. Laparoscopy is used to determine the location, extent and size of the disease. All visible endometriosis will be removed at that time, if possible.
Following the laparoscopy, the tissue is sent to pathology for evaluation and a diagnosis is made.
Treatment varies based on the severity of an individual’s endometriosis. At Advanced Gynecology, we’ll always consider the extent of your pain and your personal preferences when discussing treatments. If your symptoms are mild, pain medication may be all that is necessary to manage your symptoms.
- Laparoscopy (also used to help diagnose endometriosis): A surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a thin tube with a lens and a light, is inserted into an incision in the abdominal wall; using the laparoscope to see into the pelvic area, the doctor can remove the endometrial growths in most circumstances.