Endometriosis occurs when the tissue, or endometrium, lining the uterus grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis most commonly affects the Fallopian tubes and ovaries, as well as the tissues lining the pelvis. Although displaced from its normal location, the endometrial tissue continues to act as it does in the uterus, thickening and then breaking down and bleeding during the menstrual cycle. This causes significant pain and may eventually produce thickened fibrous tissue, or adhesions, in the pelvic region that can lead to infertility. Endometriosis usually starts a few years after menarche — onset of periods — becomes asymptomatic during pregnancy, and ends with menopause if you’re not on hormone therapy.
Symptoms vary between individuals but commonly include:
Some issues that put you at higher risk for developing endometriosis include:
If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control that reduces or eliminates your menstrual bleeding is sometimes effective for women with moderate to mild symptoms. Certain IUDs (intrauterine devices), also help reduce pain and bleeding. Other possible treatments include:
Whether you’re still planning to have a child or already have a houseful, the team at Southern Women's Specialists Gynecology and Urogynecology will develop a customized endometriosis treatment plan that best addresses your symptoms and lifestyle.
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