What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful condition that is caused by the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. Endometriosis typically involves the fallopian tubes, ovaries and the tissue lining in your pelvis. It is rare that the endometrial tissue spreads beyond the pelvic organs.
Why is Endometriosis Painful?
Endometrial tissue acts by thickening, breaking down, and bleeding during the female menstrual cycle. The displaced tissue becomes trapped. This build-up of endometrial tissue can cause a number of issues. Cysts called endometriomas can form. The surrounding tissue in the pelvic area can become irritated and eventually cause scarring and adhesions. This can also lead to pelvic tissues and organs to stick together.
What are Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, and in some cases severe pain, especially during the menstrual cycle. Women have also reported pain with intercourse, and bowel movements and/or urination. Infertility is commonly associated with endometriosis.
Can Endometriosis Cause Pelvic Pain?
Endometriosis can cause pelvic pain. The severity of pain is not always a reliable indicator of the extent of the condition. Women with mild endometriosis can have intense pain, while those with advanced endometriosis may have little to no pain. The only way to accurately diagnose endometriosis as the cause of pelvic pain is through diagnostic surgery.
Endometriosis can be mistaken for other conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease or ovarian cysts. In some cases, pelvic pain can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How to Treat Pelvic Pain without Surgery?
There are different treatment options for pelvic pain caused by endometriosis. The procedure type will depend on the extent of the endometriosis and whether the patient wishes to remain fertile. Your physician may recommend over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate the pelvic pain symptoms. Supplemental hormones are sometimes effective in reducing or eliminating endometriosis pain. When these non-surgical treatment options do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend surgery.
How to Treat Pelvic Pain with Surgery?
For women who wish to remain fertile and have not had relief with alternative treatments, a conservative surgical approach would involve removing as much of the endometriosis from the exterior of the uterus while also preserving the ovaries and uterus. Your physician may perform the surgery laparoscopically or through traditional abdominal surgery for more extensive cases. During laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon will insert a viewing instrument through a small incision near the navel to remove the endometrial tissue.
For women with severe endometriosis, a hysterectomy or a robotic hysterectomy may be recommended. A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, cervix, and in some cases, both ovaries. A hysterectomy is considered a last resort, especially for women in the reproductive years. Once you have a hysterectomy, you can no longer be child bearing.
What is the Benefit of Robotic Surgery for the Removal of Endometriosis?
The benefit of robotic surgery for the removal of endometriosis is:
- Quicker recovery time compared to traditional open surgery
- Less scar tissue formation
- Less bleeding, which leads to improved rate of fertility
Robotic surgery has advanced with “firefly” technology. This technology “lights up” areas of endometriosis that might not be seen by the naked eye. The physicians at Women’s Specialists of Plano are experts at performing robotic surgery for the treatment of endometriosis. Patients who have been recommended to have an open surgery, rather than robotic surgery, it is important to get a second opinion to ensure the right course of treatment.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Endometriosis Treatment?
Recovery following endometriosis treatment will depend on the treatment option that the patient receives. For patients who receive surgical treatment, talk to your physician about proper protocol for recovery.