In the previous post, we touched the basics of endometriosis the causes and symptoms; in this concluding part, we will be looking at the diagnosis and treatment options available.
HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
There are various ways by which this disease can be diagnosed, it all begins with a visit to your doctor
1. Pelvic Exam
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to check your ovaries, uterus, and cervix for anything unusual. An exam can sometimes reveal an ovarian cyst or internal scarring that may be due to endometriosis. The doctor also looks for other pelvic conditions that could cause symptoms similar to endometriosis.
2. Pelvic Scans
Although it isn’t possible to confirm endometriosis with scanning techniques alone, your doctor may order an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to help with diagnosis. These may be able to detect larger endometrial growths or cysts. The scans use sound waves, X-rays, or magnetic fields with radiofrequency pulses to create the images.
Laparoscopy is the only sure way to determine if you have endometriosis. A surgeon inflates the abdomen with gas through a small incision in the navel.
The surgeon can take small pieces of tissue for a lab to examine — called a biopsy — to confirm the diagnosis.
HOW IS IT TREATED?
- Pain Medications
Pain medications, such as acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or naproxen, often help relieve the pain and cramping that comes with endometriosis. These drugs however, only treat the symptoms and not the underlying endometriosis.
2. Birth Control Pills
Oral contraceptives manage levels of estrogen and progestin, which make your menstrual periods shorter and lighter,this often eases the pain of endometriosis.
Your doctor may prescribe pills to be taken continuously, with no breaks for a menstrual period, or progestin-only therapy. Progestin-only therapy can also be given by injection.
Endometriosis symptoms may return after you stop taking the pills.
3. Other Hormone Therapies
These drugs mimic menopause, getting rid of periods along with endometriosis symptoms. They can cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, mood changes, and bone loss. Danocrine works mainly by lowering estrogen. Side effects can include weight gain, smaller breasts, acne, facial hair, voice and mood changes, and birth defects.
During a laparoscopy, the surgeon may remove visible endometrial growths or adhesions. Most women experience immediate pain relief.
5. Open Surgery
Severe cases of endometriosis may require laparotomy, or open abdominal surgery, to remove growths, or a hysterectomy — removal of the uterus and possibly all or part of the ovaries. Although this treatment has a high success rate, endometriosis still recurs for about 15% of women who had their uterus and ovaries removed.
HOW DO I LIVE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS?
Although there is no way to prevent endometriosis, you can make lifestyle choices that will help you feel better. Regular exercise may help relieve pain by improving your blood flow and boosting endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers.
IS THERE AN END TO THIS DISEASE?
There is no cure for endometriosis yet. However, for most women, endometriosis recedes with menopause. Some women find relief from endometriosis during pregnancy. In some cases, symptoms may simply go away. About one-third of women with mild endometriosis will find that their symptoms resolve on their own.