The word endometrium refers to the tissue that lines your womb. With the condition endometriosis this tissue starts to grow elsewhere outside of the womb, most usually in the pelvis and ovaries. Around 30-40% of women with this condition have difficulty conceiving. Wherever it is located, this tissue sheds in the same way as your womb lining does during a period. However, the blood produced stays inside your body because it can’t escape through the vagina, so causes pain and irritation around the area it occupies.
Endometriosis – Symptoms
Some sufferers are not aware they have the condition but common symptoms include strong pelvic pain during periods (dysmenorrhea) and at other times, heavy/irregular menstrual bleeding, discomfort during bowel movements and failure to conceive.
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What Causes Endometriosis?
The root cause is unknown but some believe the cells from the endometrium are transported round the body in the blood stream. Others think that certain cells exist in the body that can become endometrial when affected by other influences.
Endometriosis – Diagnosis
To establish the cause of the problem, our consultant will need to examine your abdomen and pelvic area. You may require an external and/or internal ultrasound scan to gain a clear picture of the inside of your womb and check for any side-effects of the condition, such as endometriosis within the ovary (endometrioma).
You may require a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy, carried out under general anaesthetic, during which we insert a small tube with a camera into the abdomen to look closely at your pelvic organs.
Endometriosis – Treatment
Hormone treatment can help endometriosis sufferers by altering the menstrual cycle and comes in the form of medication such as combined oral contraceptives. In some cases, to improve your future fertility, surgery may be required to remove damaged tissue and cysts.