Endometriosis is among the most common causes of pelvic pain for women. In fact, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about 1 in every 10 women in the US will experience endometriosis in their lifetime. The condition occurs when endometrial (uterine lining) tissue extends beyond the uterus. The most common site of endometriosis implants are the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and pelvic walls. In response to normal hormone fluctuations, the implants create inflammation, which leads to fibrosis, scarring, and resultant pain. These endometrial implants may grow and bleed, leading to surrounding tissue in areas like the ovaries and fallopian tubes becoming irritated, inflamed, and swollen and the formation of scar tissue. In addition to chronic pain in the pelvis (especially during menstrual periods), endometriosis can also cause pain during sex and heavy or prolonged menstrual periods. There is also a strong link between endometriosis and serious gynecological issues including infertility and ovarian cancer.
Thankfully, endometriosis can be treated. Like any other medical condition, the earlier endometriosis is diagnosed and treated, the better. Determining the most beneficial and appropriate treatment plan requires consultation with a board-certified gynecologist. But to help women get a better idea of their available options, we have outlined the most common and recommended treatments for endometriosis.
Medication-Based Treatments for Endometriosis:
The first step towards treating the symptoms of endometriosis involves trying one or more medications, typically starting with over-the-counter pain meds like ibuprofen. However, pain meds cannot treat the root cause of endometriosis pain. Since pain medications cannot treat the underlying cause of endometriosis, hormone-based medications may be needed. These include birth control pills, hormonal IUD’s, or GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) agonists like Lupron and Orilissa.
Surgical Treatments for Endometriosis:
For women who are unable to successfully treat their endometriosis with medication alone, gynecological surgery can provide a solution. Surgery allows for removal of the endometriosis implants by excision or electrocautery without the need to remove reproductive organs. In cases where symptoms are especially severe or persist after the initial surgery, we may recommend an ablation or a hysterectomy with or without removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Choosing the right endometriosis treatment depends largely on the extent of your symptoms, your medical history, and whether you want to have children in the future. For more information on endometriosis or if you would like to request an appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for additional tips, news, and details on our upcoming health and wellness events.