As March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month, the providers at Urology Specialist Group want to highlight what you might expect when you have the condition.
Endometriosis affects about 190 million women worldwide. If you don’t have it, someone you know might. To help women who have endometriosis, you should understand how the condition affects your reproductive and general health.
An overview of endometriosis
Endometriosis causes the tissue that lines your uterus (endometrium) to grow outside of the organ. The tissue can cover other nearby organs and soft tissues.
Complications result because endometrial tissue continues to act like it usually does – thickening and breaking down during your monthly menstrual cycle. Since the tissue growing outside of your uterus has no way to leave the body, you can experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Heavy bleeding
- Painful cramps
- Persistent pelvic pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Pain with intercourse
- Painful bowel movements and urination
For some women, the excess tissue growth can prevent sperm from traveling to meet an egg for fertilization, which results in infertility complications.
The root cause of endometriosis isn’t well understood but your hormone levels and starting menstruation at an early age can play a role in the condition.
Stages of endometriosis
When you are diagnosed with endometriosis, our providers will classify your condition into one of four stages. These stages outline the location, depth, and severity of abnormal endometrial cell and tissue growth.
The four stages of endometriosis include:
Stage 1 - Minimal
Stage 1 endometriosis describes the presence of endometrial cells (endometriosis implants) growing outside of your uterus. You may also have mild adhesions, clusters of fibrous tissue that form bands in the pelvic cavity. Adhesions are the result of an inflammatory response from your immune system.
Stage 2 - Mild
Stage 2 endometriosis describes implants that are either superficial or deep with mild adhesions. Fibrous tissue growth can be widespread in the pelvic cavity.
Stage 3 - Moderate
Stage 3 endometriosis causes moderate symptoms, including deep implants and dense adhesions. This abnormal tissue growth can be even more widespread than stage 2.
Stage 4 - Severe
Stage 4 is the most severe form of endometriosis. This stage involves superficial implants and filmy adhesions that are more severe and widespread than stage 3 tissue growth.
These four stages are beneficial for comparing the results of any treatments you receive. For instance, if you have surgery to remove some endometrial tissue, our providers can use the staging system to compare your results before and after treatment.
Endometrial stages don’t account for factors like pelvic pain, infertility, and other symptoms that women experience.
Treatment options for endometriosis
A comprehensive evaluation for endometriosis includes a manual pelvic exam, ultrasound, and other diagnostic imaging tests to confirm the condition. You may also need a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure to stage abnormal tissue growth.
Our women’s health specialists use the results of your testing to determine how to effectively treat your symptoms and prevent additional complications. Your treatment plan may include:
- Hormonal birth control
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Laparoscopic surgery
We also offer additional treatments, including fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization (IVF), to address infertility issues that women experience due to endometriosis.
Call the Urology Specialist Group office in Hialeah or Miami Lakes, Florida, to schedule an endometriosis evaluation or book an appointment online today.