Normally, endometrial tissue is found only inside the uterus. The uterus is the reproductive organ where a fetus develops. Hormones cause the tissue to form there, preparing the body for a fertilized egg. If you do not become pregnant, the tissue leaves the body during menstruation.
In endometriosis, endometrial-like tissue is found outside the uterus. For example, it may be found on organs in the abdomen or pelvis. In these places, the tissue still responds to hormones. It swells, breaks down, and bleeds. But it is unable to leave when you menstruate. Surrounding tissue becomes inflamed. There is often scarring.
Diagnosis is usually confirmed with a
laparoscopy. This test allows the doctor to see if there are patches of endometrial tissue and scar tissue.
The goals of treatment are to:
Slow endometrial growth
Restore or preserve fertility
Treatment options depend on:
Severity of symptoms
Size, number, and location of growths
Degree of scarring
Extent of the disease
Age and whether a baby is wanted in the future
They following medications may be advised:
Over-the-counter pain relievers to ease mild symptoms
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and help with cramping—best when taken on a regular basis
Prescription pain relievers—often needed
Hormones are an option for women who are not trying to become pregnant. Birth control pills and other injectable drugs interfere with estrogen production. These medications may decrease pain and shrink the size and number of endometrial growths. But, symptoms and endometrial growths tend to come back when the hormones are stopped. If birth control pills are prescribed to manage endometriosis, then they are often used continuously, so that menstruation does not occur. After surgery, birth control pills may reduce the chance of these growths returning.
If there are severe symptoms or a pregnancy is wanted in the future, then doctors can try to remove endometrial growths. This is often done with laparoscopic surgery. In severe, unmanageable cases it may be advised to also
remove the uterus and ovaries. But this means that pregnancy cannot happen.
There are no current guidelines to prevent endometriosis.
Endometriosis. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website. Available at: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/endometri/Pages/default.aspx. Accessed September 11, 2017.
Practice bulletin no. 114: management of endometriosis. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;116(1):223-236. Reaffirmed 2016.
3/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115220/Endometriosis: Seracchioli R, Mabrouk M, Frascà C, et al. Long-term cyclic and continuous oral contraceptive therapy and endometrioma recurrence: a randomized controlled trial. Fertil Steril. 2010;93(1):52-56.
2/12/2018 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115220/Endometriosis: Guerriero S, Saba L, et al. Transvaginal ultrasound (TVS) versus magnetic resonance (MR) for diagnosing deep infiltrating endometriosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Nov 20.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.