When you have endometriosis, tissue much like the lining of your uterus grows where it doesn’t belong — either on the outer surface of your uterus or on nearby structures like your ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, intestines, or pelvic floor.
Endometriosis is a common gynecological problem, affecting nearly seven million women of reproductive age — or over 1 in 10 female adults — in the United States. Among women in their 30s and 40s, endometriosis is a leading cause of chronic pelvic pain, painful periods, abnormal bleeding, and infertility.
At Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology in Amarillo, Texas, we know how hard it can be to live with endometriosis. To help you alleviate or even eliminate disruptive symptoms, our women’s wellness experts offer customized solutions that take your family planning desires into full account.
Here, in recognition of Endometriosis Awareness Month, our team discusses the common signs and symptoms of endometriosis and explores available treatment options.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue that’s very similar to the endometrium, or the membrane that lines the inside of your uterus, abnormally appears outside of the organ itself. The disorder can cause endometrium-like tissue — known as endometrial implants — to develop on any nearby structure, including:
No matter where it exists (inside or outside your uterus), endometrium-like tissue acts the same: It thickens with blood, breaks down, and sheds through every menstrual cycle.
Normal shedding endometrium exits your body via your monthly period. But with no way to exit your body when they shed each month, abnormal endometrial tissue remains trapped inside your pelvic region.
There, it prompts the formation of adhesions like scar tissue or ovarian cysts. The cyclical nature of endometrial implants, along with the adhesions they create, can trigger a range of disruptive symptoms, including:
Endometriosis is also a leading cause of fertility problems — experts estimate the disorder is responsible for as many as one in two cases of female infertility.
Endometriosis can make it harder to conceive naturally by blocking your fallopian tubes with endometrial implants, or by creating an inflammatory environment that undermines normal ovarian and uterine function.
Endometriosis severity — and the severity of its symptoms — can vary greatly among individuals. Even so, it’s important to recognize that there’s no clear connection between endometriosis severity and symptom severity.
That is to say: Someone with mild endometrial damage can develop severe symptoms, just as someone with significant endometrial damage may only experience mild symptoms.
Most treatment plans for endometriosis focus on easing painful symptoms and improving fertility problems for women whose family-planning desires include future pregnancy. When developing your treatment plan, our team considers:
While endometriosis can’t be cured, we can help you manage it successfully. Our main goal is to minimize disruptive symptoms and — when appropriate — protect your fertility. Depending on your specific needs, your plan may include:
Over-the-counter pain relievers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil®, Motrin®, or Aleve®, can provide effective relief for mild to moderate pelvic pain.
If you’re not actively trying to get pregnant, hormonal contraception can help you have lighter, less painful periods.
GnRH agonists stop the hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, causing temporary menopause that can ease your symptoms and make it easier to get pregnant later, when you stop taking the medicine.
In some cases, we may recommend laparoscopic surgery to remove problematic endometrial implants. Our team specializes in da Vinci® Robotic Surgery, an advanced, minimally invasive and maximally effective technique.
If your endometriosis is severe and you don’t want to get pregnant in the future, a minimally invasive hysterectomy — or the surgical removal of your uterus — can help resolve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. To ensure complete pain relief, we also remove endometrial implants outside your uterus during the procedure.
If you’ve been living with endometriosis pain, you don’t have to suffer any longer — there are treatments that can help. To schedule a visit or learn more about the endometriosis treatment options available at Panhandle Obstetrics and Gynecology in Amarillo, Texas, give us a call at 806-359-5468 today.