What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.
When the endometrial-like tissue grows outside the uterine cavity, it can cause pain in the organs where the endometrial-like tissue is growing. This irritation can develop into bands of scar-like tissue (called adhesions) that, over time, can twist the organs and tie them together into unnatural positions, causing extreme pain.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine grades endometriosis into four stages depending on severity: stage 1 is minimal, stage 2 is mild, stage 3 is moderate, and stage 4 is severe endometriosis. However, stage does not necessarily correlate with the level of pain someone is experiencing; for example, two women with stage 2 endometriosis may report very different levels of pain.
What Signs and Symptoms are Associated with Endometriosis?
Women with endometriosis often show the following symptoms:
Chronic pelvic pain
Chronic back pain
An abnormal menstrual cycle and unable to function normally due to pain and symptoms
Severe period pain, which may cause nausea, vomiting that can persist even with the use of pain medicines
Pain during intercourse
Feeling bloated or suffering from diarrhea or constipation
Interstitial cystitis – Or feeling as if you have frequent urinary tract infections
However, some women may not show any signs or symptoms of endometriosis.
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of endometriosis can only be confirmed through a minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy. After patients complete a medical history and assessment, your physician will order an ultrasound to see whether any presence of ovarian cysts or endometrial polyps.
If endometriosis is suspected, your physician may want to make an appointment for diagnostic surgery at a surgical center.
Signs & Symptoms
Pain on ovulation
Pain during an internal examination
Pain during or after sex
Heavy periods with or without clots
Spotting or bleeding between periods
Loss of 'old" or 'dark' blood before a period
Bowel and bladder symptoms
Painful bowel movements
Bleeding from the bowel
Symptoms of irritable bowel (diarrhea, constipation, bloating - particularly during period)
Pain when passing urine
Pain before or after passing urine or opening bowel
Tiredness/lack of energy