Renata HuttRenata Hutt, Consultant Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, explains how BMI Mount Alvernia Hospital can help those suffering from endometriosis
It occurs when cells, similar to the ones lining the womb, are present outside of the womb cavity. These cells are most commonly found in the lower abdomen or on your ovaries and respond to changes in female hormones with shedding and bleeding at the time of your period.
As there is no way for this blood to leave your body it results in inflammation, the formation of scar tissue (adhesions) and pain. If endometriosis affects your ovary the bleeding can accumulate forming blood filled cysts known as ‘chocolate cysts’.
The symptoms of endometriosis vary in intensity with some women having severe symptoms and others very little. The amount of pain is not always related to the amount or severity of the endometriosis. Common symptoms include painful, heavy periods, pain during or after sex, difficulty in getting pregnant and pain or bleeding on opening bowels.
A pelvic ultrasound scan will be able to detect ‘chocolate cysts’ affecting your ovaries, but is not able to see any other areas of endometriosis. The only way to make a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis is through a surgical procedure, a laparoscopy.
Laparoscopy, otherwise known as ‘keyhole surgery’, is when a telescope is inserted into the abdominal cavity, usually via the belly button. It is performed under a general anaesthetic and can often be done as a day case without requiring an overnight stay.
All surgery carries risks and it is, therefore, important to discuss whether your surgeon can also aim to treat any endometriosis found at the same time. This is particularly important if infertility is a problem.
No one knows exactly what causes endometriosis and currently there is no cure. The main aim of treatment is to control the symptoms allowing women to enjoy a good quality of life. There are a number of different treatments available. The decision on which type of treatment (or surgery) is best will depend on the individual circumstances and symptoms of each woman and should be decided in partnership with your doctor.
If you are worried that you may have endometriosis, you can discuss your concerns with your doctor.