Do you have severe pain during your period? Are you struggling with fertility problems? It’s possible you may have endometriosis, a condition that causes uterine tissue to grow outside of the uterus. The expert physicians at Capital Women’s Care help women in Leesburg and Sterling, Virginia and surrounding areas, diagnose and treat endometriosis and other health problems unique to the female body. Request an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and begin your journey toward total health and wellness.
What is endometriosis?
The lining of your uterus is called the endometrium. In endometriosis, the tissue of this lining begins to grow outside the walls of your uterus. It can spread to your ovaries, pelvis area, and fallopian tubes.
In a healthy uterus, endometrial tissue breaks down and is shed with each menstrual cycle. However, when this tissue is outside of the uterus, it breaks down but does not exit the body with the normal menstrual cycle.
That “trapped” tissue can cause chocolate cysts (patches of tissue that become implanted in the ovaries), scar tissue, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction, and fertility problems.
What causes endometriosis?
Several factors contribute to the development of endometriosis. You might be more at risk if you:
- Have not had children
- Started your period at a young age
- Have a short menstrual cycle
- Have higher than average estrogen levels in your body
- Have a family history of endometriosis
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
While it’s not always entirely clear what causes endometriosis, a profile of your symptoms can usually enable your physician to make an accurate diagnosis. Symptoms of endometriosis may include:
- Pain during menstruation. While cramping is common during a regular menstrual cycle, you may experience several days of very painful cramps just before and during the menstrual period.
- Painful bowel movements. You might experience these during menstruation, and you also might experience pain during urination.
- Painful sex. You may experience pain or burning during intercourse, a symptom called “dyspareunia.”
- Heavy periods. Patients with endometriosis sometimes have a heavy flow during menstruation or might also bleed between periods. This can also occur in other gyn conditions, so it should always be evaluated.
- Inability to conceive. Infertility is common with endometriosis, but it can often be treated successfully with the right approach.
It’s important to note that you may experience intense pain or low-grade pain if you have endometriosis, as each patient is different. Alternately, you may not have any symptoms at all.
How is endometriosis treated?
To get an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis, your physician performs one or several tests, which may include an ultrasound, a pelvic exam, or a laparoscopy — a procedure that allows her to look inside your uterus using a tiny camera.
Once diagnosed, endometriosis is treated in several different ways, including:
Your physician may prescribe you pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs to help with cramping, as well as hormone therapy drugs to regulate the menstrual cycle and slow the growth of endometrial tissue.
If you are trying to conceive, your physician may recommend a surgical procedure to remove excess endometrial tissue while still retaining the health of your ovaries and uterus. In some cases, this can be a simple laparoscopic surgery. In other situations, you may explore in vitro fertilization to help you achieve pregnancy.
If you’re past your pregnancy years or do not wish to become pregnant, your physician might also discuss the option of removing the ovaries and/or the uterus. That’s often the last resort, but it can be helpful and necessary for some patients, especially those who have failed medical treatments or cannot tolerate hormonal therapy.
Contact Capital Women’s Care today to speak with a qualified physician.