What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a problem that affects your reproductive organs and menstrual cycle. It can cause cramps and pain during your periods. Or you may have pelvic pain the whole month. If you have this problem and it’s not treated, it can affect your health. But, with early diagnosis and treatment, it can be managed.
With endometriosis, tissue inside the uterus begins to grow where it should not. This endometrial tissue can also grow on the ovaries, bowels, or on the walls of your pelvic cavity. During your menstrual period, this extra tissue swells with blood. The tissue may also release tiny drops of blood. The swelling and blood irritate nearby tissues. This causes pain and cramps. This irritation may cause scar tissue to form. This scar tissue can bind organs together. It can also cause problems getting pregnant (infertility).
If you have endometriosis, you may have 1 or more of these symptoms:
- Cramps and menstrual pain
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Painful bowel movements
- Trouble getting pregnant (infertility)
Treatment may help relieve pain. It may also help restore fertility. Options include medical therapy, surgery, or both. Medicine may also help relieve some of your symptoms. Talk with your health care provider about these options.
If medical therapy doesn’t control the problem, surgery can be done. During surgery, endometrial implants may be removed. This may help women get pregnant if the endometriosis was causing fertility problems. If a woman does not want to get pregnant, in some cases, the uterus may be removed. This is called a hysterectomy. The ovaries may be removed along with the uterus. There are 2 techniques for doing surgery:
- Laparoscopy. This is surgery done through small incisions in your stomach. An instrument called a laparoscope (a thin, lighted tube) is used. It is put through 1 of the small incisions. Surgical tools are put through the other small incisions.
There is no cure for endometriosis, but you can be treated. You and your doctor decided on laparoscopic treatment for you. During your procedure, the doctor made small incisions in your abdomen and used surgical instruments to remove or treat the diseased tissue. Your incisions and the area around them may be sore or tender. You may also feel pain in your upper back or shoulders. This is from the gas used to enlarge your abdomen to allow your doctor to see and treat the endometriosis. This pain usually goes away within a day or two.
Here's what you can do at home to help with your recovery.
- Plan to rest for a week after your surgery, although you may feel OK within a few days.
- While you recover, have friends or family help you with chores and errands.
- Walk as often as you feel able.
- Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds to avoid straining your incisions.
- Don’t push a vacuum or do other strenuous housework until the doctor says it’s OK.
- Climb stairs slowly and pause after every few steps.
- Don’t drive for a few days after the surgery. You may drive as soon as you are able to move comfortably from side to side as long as you aren't taking any narcotics.
Other home care
- Take your medication exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.
- Continue with the coughing and deep breathing exercises that you learned in the hospital.
- Avoid constipation.
- Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day unless directed otherwise.
- Use a laxative or a mild stool softener if your doctor says it’s OK.
- Shower as usual.
- Wash your incision with mild soap and water. Pat it dry. Don’t use oils, powders, or lotions on your incision.
- Don’t have sexual intercourse or use tampons or douches until your doctor says it’s safe to do so.
- Report hot flashes, mood swings, and irritability to your doctor. There may be medications that can help you.
Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.
When to call your doctor
Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
- Redness, swelling, or drainage at your incision site
- Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
- Pain that is not relieved by your medication
- Any unusual bleeding
- Dizziness or fainting
- Abdominal pain and swelling that get worse
- Nausea and vomiting
Endometriosis can cause pain during sex. Explore whether sex during certain times of the month is less painful for you. Certain positions may also cause pain. Find out which positions reduce pain for you.
For more information
To learn more, try the sources below: