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Heart of IL OBGYN

Navigating Endometriosis


What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common condition that occurs in 1 out of 5-10 women. A uterus is lined with endometrial tissue, called the endometrium. A new endometrium grows with each menstrual cycle to prepare the body for a fertilized egg.  Endometriosis is when this tissue grows on the outside of the uterus instead.

Endometriosis can implant along pelvic organs including fallopian tubes and ovaries. Endometrial implants respond to estrogen produced by the ovaries and can grow and shed like the uterine lining does during the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis can cause pelvic tissues to become inflamed and swollen, causing painful menses. Endometriosis can also lead to formation of scar tissue or adhesions.

Signs and symptoms of endometriosis

  • Severe pain during menses
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Pain during or after sex
  • Pain in the intestine or lower abdomen
  • Painful bowel movements or urination during menstrual cycles
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

Endometriosis is officially diagnosed through a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. A biopsy of a small piece of tissue may be removed during surgery to confirm diagnosis.

Endometriosis Treatment Options

Treatment may be recommended if endometriosis is suspected and/or after surgical confirmation. Treatment options vary depending on symptoms and desire for future childbearing.

  • NSAIDs, anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen or Naproxen can be helpful to control pain.
  • Hormonal treatment, birth control pills, or progesterone releasing IUD can be helpful to slow the growth of endometrial implants and may prevent new adhesions from forming.
  • GNRH agonists (injections) - work to block the effects of estrogen.
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy can help manage pain.
  • Laparoscopic surgery to remove visible endometriosis - can be done to attempt to relieve pain and improve fertility. Approximately 40-80% of women have return of pain within ~2 years of surgery. Using hormonal treatment after surgery may help extend the pain-free period.
  • Hysterectomy - removal of the uterus and possibly ovaries, “last resort” if childbearing is complete and other treatments do not help with severe pain.
  • Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro)

If you have any signs or symptoms of endometriosis, please contact our office.  At Heart of Illinois Obstetrics and Gynecology, we have skilled providers available to help with all of your reproductive health needs.