How is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis is a painful disorder wherein the endometrium tissue that lines the insides of the uterus grows outside the uterus as well. This can affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowels and other tissue in the pelvic cavity. It is very rarely seen to affect organs outside the pelvic cavity.
Complications Associated with Endometriosis
This displaced endometrium tissue behaves in the same way as endometrium tissue inside the uterus. If a woman is not pregnant, the tissue breaks down in each menstrual cycle. Endometrium tissue inside the uterus is released in the form of a period but there is no way for the displaced endometrium tissue to be removed. This irritates the surrounding tissue and may result in the development of scar tissue and adhesions. If left untreated, endometriosis could cause infertility.
Treatment of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can be treated with medication or surgery. The ideal approach depends on the severity of the condition and if the woman wants to plan a pregnancy in the future. Surgery is usually advised only if medication does not help.
Dealing with the pain is one of the first steps of endometriosis treatment. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce the pain. When taking pain relievers it is very important not to take a higher dose than recommended. Also, remember that these medicines can be addictive and hence should not be taken for extended periods of time. It is always better to consult a doctor before taking such medicines.
Supplemental hormones may be prescribed to lower estrogen levels in the body. This slows down the growth of endometrial tissue and can prevent new endometrial tissue from being formed outside the uterus. It can also be helpful in dealing with the pain associated with this condition. Hormone therapy could be administered in the form of birth control pills, vaginal rings, injections, intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants.
Hormone therapy can have a number of side effects. Many of these hormones can make it difficult for a woman to conceive and hence must only be taken under a doctor's prescription. The good news is that once you stop taking the medication, the side effects will disappear as well. However, hormone therapy is not a permanent solution for endometriosis. Once treatment is stopped, the symptoms could return.
Conservative Surgery for Endometriosis
In cases where a woman with endometriosis intends on getting pregnant in the future, surgery may be recommended to remove the displaced endometrium tissue. This surgery can also help relieve pain. The surgery may be performed as an open or as a laparoscopic surgery. The latter is more common. However, there is no guarantee that the endometriosis will not recur post -surgery. Removal of the uterus and ovaries completely is rarely advised.
Endometriosis is one of the common causes of infertility. Different forms of fertility treatment may be advised depending on the severity of the condition. This could include stimulating the ovaries to produce more eggs for in vitro fertilisation. IVF has a high success rate in treating cases of infertility caused by endometriosis.
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