Endometriosis may not cause symptoms or it can lead to severe pain. Whether you experience pain or not, 30-50% of women with endometriosis have a hard time getting pregnant. Dr. Anna Le and the team at Annandale Ob-Gyn have extensive experience treating endometriosis and helping women prevent infertility. If you have painful periods or pelvic pain, call one of their offices in Annandale or Alexandria, Virginia, or book an appointment online to determine if you have endometriosis.
What is endometriosis?
During every menstrual cycle, the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium, prepares to nurture a fertilized egg. If you don’t become pregnant, the outermost layer of the endometrium is shed, causing menstrual bleeding. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside your uterus. The abnormal growth often occurs on ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the outside wall of the uterus, but it can spread throughout the pelvic region. Endometrial tissue outside the uterus goes through the same monthly cycle as the endometrium inside your uterus. When patches of endometriosis break down and bleed inside the pelvis, it’s not eliminated through your vagina. Some of the endometrial waste may be absorbed by your body, but enough stays around the surrounding organs to cause inflammation and scarring.
What symptoms are caused by endometriosis?
You may not have any symptoms, but women who do develop symptoms share the same problem — pain. They experience:
- Painful menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain
- Lower back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain when urinating or during bowel movements
- Other common symptoms include bleeding between menstrual periods, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
When should you see a doctor for pelvic and menstrual pain?
Dr. Le and the team at Annandale Ob-Gyn & Primary Care encourage you to have an examination any time you have pain that persists, worsens over time, or affects your daily life. Abnormal menstrual pain caused by endometriosis tends to get worse throughout your period and may continue after your period ends. By comparison, typical menstrual pain is worse on the first day and gets progressively better.
Is endometriosis associated with infertility?
Endometriosis is one of the top causes of infertility. In fact, endometriosis is found in 25-50% of women who are infertile. While fertility often returns following treatment, it’s important to see your doctor at Annandale Ob-Gyn & Primary Care as soon as possible to prevent endometriosis from worsening.
How is endometriosis treated?
Endometriosis is confirmed with an ultrasound, then a treatment plan is developed that may include:
Your doctor may prescribe medications that prevent the growth of new patches of endometriosis, reduce the size of existing endometriosis, stop menstrual periods, and relieve pain. Some hormonal intrauterine devices reduce menstrual bleeding, which alleviates symptoms caused by endometriosis.
Medical management treats symptoms, but it won’t help with infertility. Minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove patches.