During a woman’s childbearing years, a number of changes take place in the body to prepare for a potential pregnancy. The lining of a woman’s uterus (called the endometrium) thickens. If the woman does not become pregnant, the lining breaks down and is shed through menstruation.
For women with endometriosis, however, the endometrium also begins to grow outside of the uterus, usually on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other nearby organs. While this isn’t dangerous, it may cause unpleasant or painful symptoms, such as heavy menstrual bleeding and severe cramping. In some cases, it may cause infertility.
Endometriosis symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some women don’t even know they have the condition, while others have very strong symptoms. The most common signs include pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic area (especially during menstruation), abnormal uterine bleeding, and difficulty getting pregnant. Pain and bleeding may range from mild to severe.
For some women, infertility is the only symptom. They may learn they have endometriosis only when they are trying to become pregnant.
Your Mercy physician will work with you to determine the best endometriosis treatment. If your symptoms are mild, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may be all you need to control bleeding and pain. Hormone therapy may be an option for more severe symptoms if you are not trying to become pregnant.
In addition, surgical treatments can help manage endometriosis, especially if symptoms are severe or a woman is trying to become pregnant. Endometrial ablation uses heat to burn away endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. Mercy also offers minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to remove the tissue.
For the most severe cases that cannot be treated by medication or endometrial surgery, some women may choose to have their uterus and ovaries removed (hysterectomy and oophorectomy).
We understand that endometriosis can be physically and emotionally challenging, but successful treatments are available. Your Mercy team provides, expert, compassionate care to help you manage pain and bleeding, overcome infertility and live the life you love.