Endometriosis is a condition where cells that are normally found in the lining of the uterus are present in other parts of the body, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the lining of the abdomen, the bowel and/or the bladder. Because these cells are the same as those that line the uterus, they respond to estrogen and may grow or bleed slightly each month during a women's menstrual cycle.
Endometriosis symptoms are varied and may include:
Significant pain during the menstrual cycle
Bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
Painful bowel movements
Pain during or after sexual intercourse
Pelvic pain that may radiate down to the back, to the legs or into the rectum or vagina
Endometriosis symptoms may also include infertility in some women. It is estimated that the condition affects approximately 176 million women worldwide , though many women experience no endometriosis symptoms at all and may not know they have endometriosis until it is discovered during a pelvic exam or during treatment for other conditions, such as fibroid treatment for ovarian fibroma.
Treatment for endometriosis symptoms
While there is no cure for endometriosis, physicians may address endometriosis symptoms with a wide variety of treatments. Most women will need to try a number of treatments to find the combination that is most successful at relieving their endometriosis symptoms. Endometriosis treatment may include:
Surgery to remove endometriosis by laser, excision or by cautery. These surgeries can significantly lessen pelvic pain and enhance fertility.
Medication to relieve pain, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
Hormonal therapies to moderate levels of estrogen and progestins in the body. These may include birth control pills, patches, or a ring which is inserted into the vagina.
When endometriosis symptoms include fertility, treatment options include:
Laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis tissues
Fertility drugs taken orally or by injection
In vitro fertilization
Treating endometriosis symptoms at BWH
Women seeking treatment for endometriosis symptoms can find world-class care at the Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). As one of the premier infertility and reproductive medicine programs in the country, our team has specialized expertise and access to the latest therapies and technologies to treat reproductive disorders like endometriosis and its symptoms.
In addition to treating endometriosis symptoms, physicians at the Center provide diagnosis and treatment for the full spectrum of reproductive disorders, genetic conditions and infertility, including myomectomy treatment for fibroma, removal of uterine polyps, and other conditions.