The uterus features an inner lining called the endometrium. Normally, the endometrium regenerates itself—thickening, breaking down, and shedding as blood that exists out the vagina—with each menstrual cycle. When this tissue grows outside the uterus and adheres to pelvic organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and bowel, it can develop into a painful condition known as endometriosis. A very common condition, it can affect any woman has long as she continues to have periods.

The pain of endometriosis often worsens with each menstrual cycle, often going beyond typical menstrual discomfort or cramping. Over time, the pain may increase. The condition sometimes leads to infertility issues.

Symptoms

Endometriosis does not always reveal itself, but common signs of the condition may include:

  • Unusually painful periods or menstrual cramps
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Heavier than normal periods
  • Painful urination or bowel movements
  • Problems getting pregnant

The pain of endometriosis can mimic other conditions such as menstrual disorders, uterine masses, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, but also can overlap with muscle, nerve or even central pain disorders.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your NorthShore physician will ask about your medical history, review prior records, conduct a thorough pelvic exam and may order ultrasound imaging to confirm your diagnosis. Other diagnostic tests may involve collecting a sample of the tissue for biopsy via a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical procedure, which also can be an effective treatment. For milder cases, hormonal suppression (with oral contraceptives or related medications) can be effective.

At the Center, our fellowship-trained surgeons have extensive experience and advanced surgical skills in the latest techniques for treating endometriosis. Treatment options include:

  • Laparoscopic excision (cutting) of endometrial implant tissue
  • Removal of ovarian or uterine collections of endometriosis (endometriomas, adenomyomas)
  • Presacral neurectomy (cutting of the nerves to the uterus and pelvis to relieve pelvic pain)
  • Removal of scar tissue and restoration of normal pelvic organ relationships
  • Laparoscopic hysterectomy (removal of uterus and possibly cervix and ovaries)

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.926.6544.