Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition that makes menstrual cycles even worse than usual. As such, if you think you may have endometriosis, it is a good idea to seek medical attention to improve your symptoms and your overall health.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition wherein tissue similar to the endometrial tissue that lines the inside of one’s uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of their uterus. The normal function of the endometrium is to thicken, break down, and bleed during every menstrual cycle, thereby exiting the body. The endometrial-type tissue that grows outside the uterus functions in the same way; however, since the endometrial-type tissue grows outside of the uterus, it has no way of exiting the body.
As the endometrial-like tissue grows outside the uterus, it often spreads to the ovaries, bowel, and tissues lining the pelvis. As the tissue becomes trapped in the pelvis, it can cause irritation, scar formation, adhesions, and cysts known as endometriomas. Endometriosis can be quite painful, often severely so, and is particularly painful during a person’s menstrual cycle.
With that in mind, some common symptoms of endometriosis include the following:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating or nausea
- Dysmenorrhea, or acutely painful menstrual cycles
- Heavy or excessive bleeding, as well as intermenstrual bleeding, or bleeding between periods
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination, typically during one’s menstrual cycle
- Rectal bleeding, typically during one’s menstrual cycle
Many of the symptoms listed above, such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, or fatigue, are experienced to a much higher degree during one’s menstrual cycle.
What happens if endometriosis is left untreated?
If endometriosis is left untreated, it can lead to worsening symptoms and a higher risk of infertility and certain medical conditions, such as ovarian cancer. In general, endometriosis does not resolve itself without treatment. As such, any symptoms of endometriosis that you experience are not likely to improve if endometriosis is left untreated.
Treatment for endometriosis typically depends on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing and how severe those symptoms are. With that in mind, some treatment options for endometriosis include the following:
- Endometrial cryoablation
- Fertility treatments
- Hormone therapy
- Hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus, or oophorectomy, which is the removal of the ovaries
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP)
- Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) with InterStim®
How serious is endometriosis?
While endometriosis can cause severe pain, diminished quality of life, and increased risk of various diseases, it is not fatal. With that being said, there are four stages of endometriosis, ranging from minimal in the early stages to severe in the last stages.
Stage one of endometriosis is categorized as minimal. During this stage, the endometrial-like tissues growing outside the uterus are small, shallow, and few. However, the pain and discomfort in this stage can still be significant.
Stage two of endometriosis is categorized as mild and involves an increased amount of endometrial-like tissues that are thicker than those in stage one.
Stage three of endometriosis is categorized as moderate. It involves thicker endometrial-like tissues in addition to the possibility of endometrial cysts known as endometriomas on one or both ovaries and adhesions that bind organs together, causing nausea and sharp, stabbing pains.
Stage four of endometriosis is categorized as severe and involves numerous, thick endometrial-like tissues, dense adhesions throughout the pelvic organs, and large endometriomas on one or more ovaries.
If you would like more information about endometriosis or want to schedule an appointment for endometriosis treatment at Women’s Healthcare of Illinois, we invite you to do so through our website or by giving us a call. Women’s Healthcare of Illinois has two clinics located in Mokena and Evergreen Park, Illinois.
We serve patients from Evergreen Park IL, Mokena IL, Oak Lawn IL, Chicago Ridge IL, Hickory Hills IL, Bridgeview IL, and Bedford Park IL.
ADDITIONAL SERVICES YOU MAY LIKE
- Prenatal Care (Routine and High risk)
- Ultrasound 3D and 4D
- Nuchal Translucency
- Non-Stress Testing
- Antenatal Testing
- Preparation for Glucose Tolerance Test
- Prenatal Genetic Counseling & Testing
- High Risk Pregnancy Assessment
- Early Pregnancy Assessment Program
- Family Planning
- Endometrial Cryoablation for Heavy Periods
- Colposcopy Information
- Leep Procedure
- Fibroid Myomectomy
- HPV Treatment
- Fibroids Treatment
- Breast and Ovarian Cancer Screening
- Well Woman Care (annual exams)
- Pelvic Pain
- Robotic Assisted Surgery
- MonaLisa Touch
- Menopausal Syndrome
- Gynecologic Surgery
- IUD Insertion and Removal
- Preventative Care
- Urogynecology Treatment