Endometriosis is a common and sometimes debilitating condition affecting women in their reproductive years. It causes chronic pelvic pain and can make getting pregnant difficult. Endometriosis is the growth of tissue, similar to the tissue that lines the uterus, but is present outside the uterus, usually in the pelvis, and acts abnormally. The misplaced tissue builds up, and breaks down, much like the process the body undergoes with each menstrual cycle. However the blood and tissue from endometriosis does not leave the body.
Inflammation, and sometimes scarring, result in symptoms like severe, painful cramping and gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Since these symptoms can also be present with a wide array of other conditions, diagnosis can be a challenge.
Seven to 10 percent of women suffer from endometriosis. The condition is present in 50 percent of women in the reproductive age group who have pelvic pain or painful periods. Between 20 to 50 percent of infertility patients have endometriosis.
There are three main approaches to diagnose endometriosis – a pelvic exam in the doctor’s office, ultrasound, or laparoscopy both of which are available at the Almonte General Hospital. Dr. Bahaa Awwad, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at AGH is acutely aware of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. It’s a specialty that he and his colleagues have made a priority at AGH. “AGH is a great facility. It has a new operating room complete with all of the up-to-date equipment to help women with endometriosis, said Dr. Awwad, I am very happy to work in such an environment.”
Endometriosis can be treated and controlled. The approach varies with the individual but relief may come from lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques. Medication regiments such as hormone based therapy, and anti-inflammatories or, if needed, surgery is also an option.
Awareness of symptoms and getting checked is very important – particularly if a family member has or suffers from endometriosis. Pelvic pain is a signal that should not be ignored. There are ways that pain can be controlled or even eliminated.