A condition that impacts 1 in 10 women, Endometriosis is a menstrual disorder where tissue similar to what grows in the inner lining of your uterus begins to grow outside the uterus.
While the exact cause of Endometriosis is unknown, experts predict that it may occur due to conditions such as retrograde menstruation, where menstrual blood with endometrial cells moves back up the fallopian tubes and potentially stick to pelvic organs, immune system disorders, genetics, transformation of peritoneal or embryonic cells, or others.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is severe cramps and pelvic pain. Painful periods, sex, or urination, heavy bleeding, and infertility are all common signs of endometriosis. Women may endure these symptoms without having endo, but if your pain is preventing you from living your everyday life normally, consider consulting a physician about whether your symptoms are indicative of endometriosis. Endometriosis exists in different stages, so it is possible to have mild or severe symptoms depending on the severity of your condition. Most importantly, don’t ignore your pain! Trust your body and the signs it’s giving you – don’t be afraid of seeking help!
The only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis 100% is through a laparoscopy, in which a surgeon makes a minor incision in your abdomen and uses a laparoscope to look for endometrial tissue. However, there are also several other non-surgical methods to determine if you have endometriosis or not!
Ultrasounds are done through devices called transducers that can capture images of your abdomen and bowel. Oftentimes, ultrasounds can be used to look for endometriomas (endometrial cysts) and endometrial lesions that can be found in deep infiltrating endometriosis. If surgery to remove these lesions is required, an ultrasound can be extremely beneficial for helping a woman prepare for the surgery.
A pelvic exam can manually detect abnormalities in the pelvis such as cysts or scars on your reproductive organs. However, this method may not work if the endometrial growth is not large enough to be felt physically.
MRIs can give you an insider’s look into your organs, and allow your physician to see if there is endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus. MRIs can also help surgeons locate the growths and identify the size as well.