When you have your period, you shed the tissue that grows each month in your uterus to support a potential pregnancy.
Having endometriosis means that this type of tissue has moved into other areas of your body, almost always within your pelvic area.
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. But the severity of pain does not always reflect the severity of the disease. Some women with small growths have severe pain. Some women with large growths have little or no pain.
Endometriosis: what you should know
- Like the lining of the uterus, endometrial growths can expand and then shed blood and tissue during a woman’s cycle. Tissue and blood released into the body can cause inflammation, pain and scar tissue.
- These growths usually occur outside the uterus and on the ovaries or fallopian tubes (which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus).
- While endometriosis can make it harder to get pregnant, many women who have it are able to have children.
- The only cures for endometriosis are going through menopause or having your ovaries, and sometimes your uterus, surgically removed.
How can I get help for endometriosis?
These are the most common symptoms of endometriosis:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Persistent lower back pain or pelvic pain
- Pain during or after sex
- Pain while going to the bathroom during menstrual periods
- Not being able to get pregnant (infertility)
But having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have endometriosis. Other conditions have similar symptoms.
Experts at Rush can draw on their experience to find the root of your problem. Your doctor might use one or more of the following to make a diagnosis:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Birth control pills or injections, which allow doctors to monitor whether suppressing the menstrual cycle improves pain
- Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to see endometrial growths inside your body
Care for endometriosis at Rush
If you are diagnosed with endometriosis, your treatment will depend on your age, the severity of your pain and whether you want to have children.
Your doctor at Rush might recommend one or more of these treatments:
- Medications to soothe your pain
- Hormone treatments to slow the growth of endometrial tissue
- Laparoscopy or another surgical procedure to remove growths
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and oophorectormy (removal of the ovaries), which offers the only chance of a cure but is an option only for women who do not want to have children afterward
Why choose Rush for endometriosis care
- At Rush, you can see gynecologic surgeons who specialize in using techniques that involve smaller incisions. These techniques can lead to decreased pain, shorter recovery times and less noticeable scars after a hysterectomy or the removal of endometrial growths.
- Rush has a program for abdominal and pelvic health problems, including endometriosis, that can address the full spectrum of issues related to these conditions. The program has a coordinator who will help you navigate the multiple specialists you might need to see to find relief.
- Doctors at Rush are also researchers looking for new treatments to help women with endometriosis. Through clinical trials, they can offer some patients options that might not be widely available.