You may have heard this long and foreign word from you doctor, or perhaps have received it as a possible diagnosis.

Feeling confused about how you got it? Wondering what exactly this diagnosis means and how it can affect your life?

This article aims to answer the confusing questions you have on your mind and also tell you how you can better manage with this condition.

What Is Endometriosis?

picture showing endometriosis in the female reproductive organs*

The term ‘endometriosis’ refers to a clinical situation whereby tissue from your womb implants itself somewhere else in the body.

These tissues are normally a part of the inner lining of the womb, also known as the endometrium, and is the area that is responsible for bleeding or shedding during your monthly menstruation.

How Did I Get This?

picture showing retrograde flow of menstruation*

There is no clear answer as to ‘how’ one gets endometriosis and there has been no particular reason identified.  However, the most popular theory behind this is due to ‘retrograde menses’, which causes the backflow of blood into the pelvis.

Most women affected by endometriosis are usually in their reproductive years.

How Do I Know If I Have Endometriosis?

picture showing woman with pelvic pain*

Common symptoms of Endometriosis include:

  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Pain during bowel movement
  • Bladder problems
  • Heavy mensturation or bleeding between periods

How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

Your doctor may have a clinical suspicion based on your medical history and physical examination findings.

To aid in the diagnosis, an ultrasound pelvis is usually done to look for any evidence of endometriosis.

picture showing transvaginal ultrasound being performed on a woman*

However, the gold standard method for diagnosing endometriosis will be through a diagnostic laparoscopy to look for evidence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.

picture showing what endometriotic spots look like on laparoscopy*

How Does Endometriosis Affect My Life?

As endometriosis is due to the growth of endometrial tissue in other parts of the body, these other endometriotic deposits can also “bleed” especially during a girl’s menstrual period.

This will lead to inflammation of the surrounding tissue, scarring and pain. This in turn can lead to the following problems:

  • Severe pain especially during your menstrual periods that can affect your daily activities
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain
  • Scarring of the surrounding tissue which will lead to distorted anatomy, this can cause blockage of the fallopian tubes which affects fertility
  • Endometriotic cysts in the ovary

picture showing severe pelvic adhesions due to endometriosis*

Amongst those points mentioned, the most common problems associated with endometriosis in women are pelvic pain as well as subfertility.

What Can I Do To Live With Endometriosis?

Treatment options for endometriosis will depend on a few factors such as:

  • Severity of endometriosis
  • Quality of life affected
  • Symptoms experienced
  • Age of patient
  • Desire for fertility

As female hormones trigger endometriosis and its symptoms, many treatment methods are aimed to suppress these hormones and hence suppress the symptoms of endometriosis. However, this will in turn mean that a woman cannot get pregnant while on these hormonal treatments.

Treatment Options For Endometriosis

picture showing various treatment options*

Non-Hormonal Methods

  1. Oral Painkillers

picture showing painkillers*

Non-steroidal painkillers can be useful in reducing the pain and inflammation that comes with endometriosis

Hormonal Methods

  1. Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills

picture showing birth control pills*

These pills have the added benefit of birth control, regular and lighter periods

  1. Visanne (special hormonal drug for endometriosis)

picture showing visanne medication*

  1. GnRH Agonist

picture showing hormonal injection*

  • Hormonal Injection to “induce menopause” and amenorrhea to suppress endometriosis
  • Cannot be used for more than 6 months in view of risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis
  1. Mirena

picture showing mirena intrauterine contraceptive device*

  • A type of intrauterine device that contains the hormone levonorgestrel
  • Reduce period pains and menstrual flow
  • Can be put in for up to 5 years

Surgical Methods

Surgical methods are usually considered if patient has failed medical therapy, trying to conceive or has severe symptoms.

  1. Diagnostic laparoscopy

picture showing diagnostic laparoscopy surgery being performed*

  • Gold Standard to diagnose endometriosis
  • Include ablation of endometriotic spots, or removal of endometriotic cyst
  • May improve fertility in women with severe endometriosis who are trying to conceive
  1. Hysterectomy

picture showing female reproductive organs, with uterus removed*

  • Considered the last resort if all other methods have been unsuccessful
  • Only if patient has completed her family
  • May offer permanent relief of symptoms