Endometriosis: What is it?

Endometriosis is a gynecological condition where the cells that line the uterus are also found in locations outside the uterine cavity. In most endometriosis cases, endometrial lesions are found within other parts of the female pelvic region; however, there are reported cases of endometriosis occurring in other locations such as the gastrointestinal tract and upper diaphragm. Endometriosis is a hormonally-drive condition that can lead to pelvic pain, pain with sex, painful periods and infertility. Although endometriosis is considered a benign gynecological process, it is also a chronic condition and can greatly alter a woman’s quality of life. For a woman who presents with chronic symptoms associated with endometriosis, the definitive mechanism to diagnose the condition is with a laparoscopic surgery to visually identify the adhesions consistent with endometriosis. The surgery can also be therapeutic for the woman as adhesions causing symptoms can oftentimes be removed during the procedure. Long-term treatment and management of endometriosis is dependent upon a woman’s symptoms, comorbidities and fertility goals. Most medication treatment options for endometriosis focus on hormonal suppression of estrogen to decrease a woman’s symptoms. Women who are concerned about having endometriosis should talk to their provider about their symptoms to further evaluate.