Endometriosis is where tissue which acts in a similar way to the tissue in the uterus grows in other places of the body such as the pelvis or ovaries.
As the tissue is similar in nature to the tissue in the uterus, it builds up, breaks down and bleeds. When this happens in the uterus the bleeding is your period. However, if the tissue is acting this way outside of the uterus, the breakdown of the tissue and blood has no where go, which can result in inflammation, scar tissue build up and pain.
Symptoms of endometriosis are:
Pain in lower abdomen and back
Endometrium tissue can adhere to your lower back and front of your pelvis causing back pain
Endometrium tissue can grow on or around your sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back, down your legs and to your toes. This can cause leg pain, which may feel sharp, stabbing, throbbing, dull or like a twinge or leg cramp. It may also make it difficult to walk comfortably and stand up quickly.
Bad period pain which stops you enjoying your daily life
Endometriosis pain can feel like very painful period cramps.
Pain during or after intercourse
Endometrial tissue can cause scarring, which results in the formation of nodules that hurt when moved or touched. These nodules can develop in your womb, entrance to your womb (cervix) or pelvis, causing sharp pain during sex, either in your vagina or abdomen.
Pain when going to the toilet
Endometrial tissue can grow between your vagina and bowels. This is called rectovaginal endometriosis and can cause sharp pain, as well as pain when opening your bowels, diarrhoea and trouble urinating.
Endometriosis can cause damage to the ovaries and fallopian tubes which can make it more difficult to fall pregnant.
Tests to check for physical clues of endometriosis include:
You may have an external or internal ultrasound to get a view of your reproductive organs. The scan will be able to identify if you have endometriomas, which are cysts associated with endometriosis.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
An MRI may be helpful in identifying the location and size of endometrial implants.
A Laparoscopy is performed under general anaesthetic and allows your surgeon to make a tiny incision near your belly button to insert a very small laparoscope to take a closer detailed look inside the uterus. This procedure can give precise information on the location, extent and size of the endometrial implants. During this procedure, a biopsy can be taken as well as enable the endometriosis to be treated at the same time.
Non surgical treatment
Depending on the severity of your symptoms you may be offered pain medication and anti-inflammatories to help reduce menstrual pain. Hormone medication and birth control can also help slow the growth of endometrial tissue.
You may be offered laparoscopic surgery where your surgeon inserts a very small instrument with a camera on the end called a laparoscope through a tiny incision and a small surgical instrument through another incision to perform treatment to remove the endometrial tissue.
If you do not want to have children, then a hysterectomy can be performed to remove the uterus and ovaries completely. A hysterectomy would result in menopause which can cause other symptoms so all options will be discussed with your consultant in depth.
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