Endometriosis - Part 3 of 4

3 July 2013

The continued article by Peter Lavelle

Symptoms

The symptoms vary enormously depending on how severe the disease is, and where the tissue is located – at certain locations, for example the pouch of Douglas, the symptoms may be more severe.

Someone with endometriosis may have:

  • Pain. This is usually worse than normal period pain but there can also be pelvic or abdominal pain at other times during the cycle, for example during ovulation. Pain can be very severe and be aggravated by sexual intercourse and bowel or bladder movements. Back pain (felt in the back but actually coming from the pelvic organs) is also common.
  • Vaginal bleeding. This can be heavy, prolonged or irregular (with irregular menstrual cycles).

  • Bowel and bladder symptoms. These include painful bowel movements, diarrhoea and/or constipation, bleeding from the bowel, pain when passing urine and the need to urinate frequently. These are caused by endometrioses on the outside of (or close to) the bladder or bowel.

  • Infertility. Endometriosis is one of the main causes of infertility in women over the age of 25; about 30 to 40 per cent of infertile women probably have some degree of endometriosis.

Women with endometriosis often notice their symptoms improve if they're pregnant - particularly during the last few months of pregnancy. But the effect is usually only temporary.

Diagnosis

Because endometriosis affects internal pelvic organs and because other conditions can give rise to similar symptoms, endometriosis is often hard for a GP to diagnose. Also, many doctors don't know much about the condition or don't think of it when a woman presents to them with pelvic pain. It may take several visits to different doctors before the diagnosis of endometriosis is made. This is unfortunate, because months or years of needless suffering can be avoided if the diagnosis is made and treatment is given early on.

A GP who suspects endometriosis will do a vaginal and pelvic examination, but won't be able to diagnose the condition for certain. (Ordering procedures like ultrasound, CT or MRI scans doesn't help because these often can't detect the abnormal areas of endometrium. But they can help rule out other disorders). So the GP will send the patient to a gynaecologist, who will confirm the diagnosis by doing a laparoscopy. This is a fairly minor procedure performed in a day-only clinic or hospital outpatients department under a general anaesthetic. A laparoscope – a long, thin, telescope-like instrument with a lens at one end – is inserted into the abdomen via a small incision near the belly button. The gynaecologist can visualise the organs of the pelvis and see any endometrial implants and cysts using this instrument.

Dr Paul Stokes of Coastal IVF Sunshine Coast has been working with women worldwide for over 30 years in their endeavor to over come their symptoms of endometriosis. Take action and control with a team behind you.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/health/library/stories/2004/03/25/1829440.htm#.UYeMhitgZro