A painful condition that can affect several areas outside of your uterus in severe cases, endometriosis is something an estimated one in 10 women are likely to experience during their reproductive years. This painful malady is the result of tissue similar to the endometrial lining (tissue that normally grows inside of your uterus) growing outside of your uterus, which can affect your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even develop outside of your pelvic region.
The stages of this condition range from mild to severe, and methods of treatment change accordingly. There are times when you can be treated with pain medications, fertility treatments, and other milder methods, but there may come a time when minimally invasive surgery is the best option. Let’s look at the causes of this painful condition, its various stages and when surgery may be necessary.
Women in the Las Vegas, Nevada area dealing with this painful condition can get help from Dr. Staci McHale and the diligent, empathetic staff at New Beginnings OB-GYN. We are dedicated to giving women of all ages individualized, compassionate health care for a wide variety of obstetric and gynecological issues.
Causes of endometriosis
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but the following issues are often linked to it:
- Retrograde menstruation: when menstrual blood carrying endometrial cells travel back through the pelvis instead of out of the body
- Peritoneal cell transformation: a theory that hormones or immune factors transform peritoneal cells (cells lining the inner side of your abdomen) into endometrial cells
- Embryonic cell transformation: hormones like estrogen may change embryonic cells into endometrial cells during puberty
- Surgical scar implantation: post surgery in the pelvic region (C-section or hysterectomy) endometrial cells can attach to incisions
- Endometrial cell transport: blood vessels or tissues in your lymphatic system may cause endometrial cells to travel to other parts of the body
- Immune system disorders: problems with your immune system may make it difficult for it to recognize and destroy endometrial cells outside the uterus
Any of these possible causes can lead to excessive bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, infertility, or painful periods, sex, bowel movements, and urination associated with endometriosis.
Stages of endometriosis
This condition has four stages:
- Minimal: isolated small lesions or shallow implants of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus, may also come with inflammation of the pelvis
- Mild: small lesion or shallow implants on your ovaries and pelvic lining
- Moderate: deep lesions and implants on ovaries and pelvic lining
- Severe: deep lesions and implants on your ovaries, pelvic lining, bowels, and fallopian tubes
The stage of this condition doesn’t necessarily correlate with the pain you may be experiencing, but infertility becomes a greater risk if your condition is in the latter stages. Treatment methods still vary depending on how the condition affects you at each stage.
When to consider surgery
Because different people may experience symptoms in various ways regardless of the stage of endometriosis you’re in, milder therapies are typical of managing this condition initially. Over-the-counter pain medications, hormone therapy, and hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings) can be used to relieve pain and regulate tissue growth, but minimally invasive surgery may be the best option if these methods aren’t enough.
Laparoscopy is a method that both diagnoses and treats endometriosis by using a small, lighted telescope that can find the growths and remove them. It requires general anesthesia but only needs a small incision to both identify and remove problem tissue without damaging your reproductive system. There’s very little risk of surgical complications, blood loss, or infection and you have a far shorter recovery time than major surgeries.
Treatment for endometriosis is very individualized, so if you’re dealing with the painful symptoms of this condition make an appointment with Dr. McHale and New Beginnings OB-GYN today to find the treatment that works best for you.