Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that lines the uterus to grow in areas outside that area. Usually, this extra tissue growth happens in the abdominal and pelvic areas, although it can develop anywhere in the body.
Endometriosis is most often seen in pre-menopausal women. It appears to run in families for some people. If a woman's mom and grandmother has endometriosis, she may be much more likely to develop it herself. It is not always known why women develop endometriosis, so determining who is at risk can be difficult.
Yes, pelvic pain can be a sign of endometriosis. However, not all women who have pelvic pain have endometriosis and vice versa. Sometimes there is no indicator that endometriosis is present, even if there is severe tissue growth. However, the opposite is also true. A woman with only a small amount of endometrial growths may have severe symptoms. In the women that do have symptoms of endometriosis, the most common are: Pelvic pain during periods, pain while ovulating, and painful sexual intercourse. Women who have endometriosis often suffer from infertility, as well.
The doctor will typically make a preliminary diagnosis based on the patient's symptoms. For a definitive diagnosis, a laparoscopy is needed. This surgery requires only very small incisions around the naval area in most cases. The laparoscopy allows the physician to see the abdominal cavity close up, so they can immediately tell whether there is endometrial growth or not.
Although there isn't a cure for endometriosis at this time, there are many things that can be done to make a patient more comfortable. Medication can provide relief when needed, and hormone therapy is another potential option for long term relief. A surgery that is done via laparoscopy can remove excess endometrial tissue, if it is needed for pain relief.
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