Endometriosis is a female disease in which endometrial-like tissue is found outside of the uterus in other parts of the body. Lesions are characterized as estrogen-dependent, benign, inflammatory, stem-cell driven and at times progressive with diffuse fibrosis, deep infiltration, and resistance to apoptosis (cell death) and progesterone. This tissue, which normally lines the uterus, is associated with monthly menstruation and is often characterized by abnormal painful and heavy periods, as well as pelvic pain, severe cramps, and pain with sex. (dyspareunia).
Endometriosis is a painful reproductive disorder that affects 176 million women worldwide . The economic impact of endometriosis is staggering: Businesses lose billions of dollars each year in lost productivity and work time because of the disease. A leading cause of infertility and chronic pelvic pain, it has also been linked to other health concerns, including certain autoimmune diseases, fibroids, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis, and even certain cancers. It is also one of the leading reasons for laparoscopic surgery and hysterectomy in the United States.
Where does endometriosis occur in the body?
Typical: Endometriosis typically develops on the pelvic structures including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and bowels (intestines).
Common: It is common for endometriosis to develop on the top of the vagina (anterior cul-de-sac) and in the peritoneal cavity between the rectum and the posterior wall of the uterus (posterior cul-de-sac).
Rare: The disease can spread to the diaphragm, lungs, kidney, appendix, and, surprisingly, the gastrocnemius (calf muscles).
What are the "Stages of Endometriosis?"
American Society of Reproductive Medicine Severity Classifications
What are the "Descriptive Classifications of Endometriosis?"
Because the 4 commonly used classifications of endometriosis do not have any correlation to a patient’s symptoms or the nature of the infiltration itself, we often use a more descriptive system:
Abdomen pain and bowel dysfunction that includes painful bowel movements, diarrhea, bloating, gassiness or cramps
Bladder dysfunction, such as painful urination
Weakness, numbness or pain in nerves (neuropathy)
Personality changes (depression, stress, apathy)
What is the first step needed in order to diagnose my endometriosis?
Before any imaging is done, you should speak with a GYN physician who is familiar with diagnosing endometriosis and can provide a full comprehensive pelvic exam. Between the physical exam and informing them of your symptoms and past medical history, a physician will have a better understanding if imaging tests are needed.
What imaging tests are used pre-surgery to identify endometriosis?
In order to properly diagnose a patient with endometriosis, one or multiple of the following imaging tests must be conducted in order to ensure that a patient is in need of surgery:
What imaging techniques are used during endometriosis surgery?
While in an operating room, a well-trained and experienced GYN surgeon will be able to visualize any anatomical abnormalities or endometriosis lesions through the following tests:
What are non-surgical ways that can relieve endometriosis symptoms?
It is important to note that the following methods are not treatments of the disease itself, but rather are a mean to control a patient’s pain and symptoms. They provide a relief, not a cure.
What surgical procedures can be performed during endometriosis surgery?
There are a variety of surgical treatments that a patient can undergo to treat endometriosis depending on the severity, stage, and abundance of the endometrioma lesions.
As a patient, your health and wellbeing come first. Having had decades of experience, we know that this is the most important aspect in treating endometriosis. Every patient is different and therefore every patient must be heard.
Menoka M. was experiencing severe pelvic pain for the past seven years and was not diagnosed with endometriosis for nearly five years. After seeing many doctors and having several surgeries, Menoka found us and was soon scheduled for laparoscopic deep excision surgery. Read about Menoka's journey here, as well as how she is doing now.
You can read more stories of patients with endometriosis, of varying stages, in our testimonial section.