Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. With endometriosis, the tissue can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the intestines.
Types of Endometriosis
There are three main types of endometriosis:
- Superficial peritoneal lesion. This is the most common kind. You have lesions on your peritoneum, a thin film that lines your pelvic cavity.
- Endometrioma. These dark, fluid-filled cysts, also called chocolate cysts, form deep in your ovaries. They don’t respond well to treatment and can damage healthy tissue.
- Deeply infiltrating endometriosis. This type grows under your peritoneum and can involve organs near your uterus, such as your bowels or bladder. About 1% to 5% of women with endometriosis have it.
- Pelvic Exam. Your doctor might be able to feel cysts or scars behind your uterus.
- Imaging tests. An ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI can make detailed pictures of your organs.
- Laparoscopy. Your doctor makes a small cut in your belly and inserts a thin tube with a camera on the end. They can see where and how big lesions are. This is usually the only way to be totally certain that you have endometriosis.
- Biopsy. Your doctor takes a sample of tissue, often during a laparoscopy, and a specialist looks at it under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
- Minimal stage. You have a few small lesions but no scar tissue.
- Mild stage. There are more lesions but no scar tissue. Less than 2 inches of your abdomen are involved.
- Moderate stage. The lesions may be deep. You may have endometriomas and scar tissue around your ovaries or fallopian tubes.
- Severe stage. There are many lesions and maybe large cysts in your ovaries. You may have scar tissue around your ovaries and fallopian tubes or between your uterus and the lower part of your intestines.
- Hormone therapy: Taking supplemental hormones can sometimes relieve pain and stop the progression of endometriosis. Hormone therapy helps your body regulate the monthly hormonal changes that promote the tissue growth that occurs when you have endometriosis.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists: Women take what are called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists to block the production of estrogen which stimulate the ovaries. Estrogen is the hormone that’s mainly responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics. Blocking the production of estrogen prevents menstruation and creates an artificial menopause.
- Danazol: Danazol is another medication used to stop menstruation and reduce symptoms. While taking danazol, the disease may continue to progress.
- Conservative surgery: Conservative surgery is for women who want to get pregnant or experience severe pain and for whom hormonal treatments aren’t working. The goal of conservative surgery is to remove or destroy endometrial growths without damaging the reproductive organs.