Endometriosis is a reproductive disease that can strike at any age between puberty and menopause. Rarely, it can develop earlier than puberty, and some of the effects can last into menopause.
WHAT IS ENDOMETRIOSIS
Endometriosis cause your endometrium — the tissue that lines your uterus every month that you then shed during your period — to develop on organs and tissue outside of your womb. Most of the time, the misplaced endometrium grows on other reproductive organs like your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the outside of your uterus. It can also grow on other pelvic organs like your bladder and bowel. Rarely, endometriosis can develop on your spine or other organs.
The endometrium itself can cause painful symptoms, and it can cause scarring, which contributes to pelvic pain, painful intercourse, and can interfere with your fertility. But endometriosis causes problems at any age.
Consider a hypothetical young woman who has recently reached puberty. She’s been through sex-ed and knows that her periods may be irregular to begin with and that cramps are normal. But her cramps are excruciating and make her want to stay home from school. The cramps also occur throughout the month, even when her next periods is weeks away. Fortunately, her mother, who recognizes the symptoms, makes her an appointment with a trusted women’s health provider here at Maiden Lane Medical to get tested and treated for endometriosis.
Unfortunately, you can’t count on your symptoms subsiding when you reach menopause. While your hormone levels decline, level out, and your fertility ends, you could still have endometriosis or scar tissue on your pelvic organs that cause pelvic pain and painful intercourse.
You may not develop symptoms of endometriosis as soon as you start puberty. The average age of endometriosis diagnosis is between the ages of 25-35. Diagnosing endometriosis can take some time. Many reproductive health issues cause similar symptoms, and your women’s health care provider may need to run several tests to rule out all other possibilities.
Some of the tests we use to assess your reproductive health include:
- Pelvic exam
However, a minimally invasive surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. A laparoscope is a thin surgical tube with a camera and a light on its tip. While you’re under anesthesia, your surgeon makes a small incision in your lower abdomen and inserts the laparoscope. The device sends a video feed to a monitor in the treatment room, allowing your surgeon to examine your pelvic organs for signs of endometriosis and scarring.
When the procedure is complete, your doctor withdraws the laparoscope and closes the small incision with a stitch. Exploratory laparoscopy to look for evidence of endometriosis is a relatively quick procedure. The recovery is also rapid; in most cases, you can get back to your regular activities within a couple of days.
Here at Maiden Lane Medical, we provide highly customized treatment plans for endometriosis. Depending on the severity of your condition and your symptoms, your provider creates a customized, multidisciplinary treatment plan.
If your condition is mild, your provider might recommend a “wait and watch” approach, monitoring your symptoms and overall health. You might also find that over-the-counter pain relievers manage your symptoms.
Some doctors might try hormonal contraceptives to reduce inflammation and other symptoms. It may also prevent more endometrial tissue from forming outside of your uterus. However, these treatments don’t do anything to solve your problem and get rid of the endometrium on your other organs.
Here at Maiden Lane Medical, we offer expert laparoscopic surgeries to remove the endometriosis and scar tissue from your organs. Not only does this get rid of the abnormal tissue causing your symptoms, but surgery is often the best way to protect your future fertility.