Endometriosis is a complex disease that affects women globally. The condition happens when tissue, similar to the lining inside the uterus, grows outside the uterus, most often found in the pelvic cavity, causing severe pain. “Endometriosis requires a multidisciplinary approach that is tailored to each patient’s symptoms and quality of life. This typically includes a comprehensive evaluation with examination and imaging as well as a discussion of management options, which includes medical and surgical options at Mather Hospital” says Dr. Melissa Nicosia, Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The disease affects around one in 10 women during their reproductive years and it can take years for a woman to be properly diagnosed due to the misconceptions and general lack of awareness about the disease. However, those who suffer from endometriosis or know someone who does, will understand the severity of this disease and how it can affect a woman’s quality of life and those close to them. Because of this, it’s important to understand some of the symptoms of endometriosis and when to seek help—here are the things you should know when it comes to endometriosis.

  • Endometriosis can start as early as a girl’s first menstrual cycle, but most commonly presents between the ages of 25-35.
  • There’s no straight answer for what causes endometriosis, but researchers have studied possible causes such as:
    • retrograde menstrual flow – this is when blood during a women’s period flows upwards into the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis, rather than out of the vagina
    • problems with your immune system
    • hormones
    • genetics
  • Because endometriosis symptoms are similar to period pain, it can be difficult to diagnose. Some women might not even have any symptoms, but still suffer from a chronic case. Those who do have symptoms can experience the following:
    • chronic pain (during menstrual cycle, sexual intercourse, etc.)
    • infertility
    • fatigue
    • unusual menstrual cycles
    • bladder or bowel symptoms
  • The only sure way to diagnose endometriosis is through a minor procedure called a laparoscopy. This procedure involves the patient undergoing general anesthesia and having a surgeon make a tiny incision near your navel and insert a laparoscope to look for signs of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. This tissue is typically biopsied or removed to confirm endometriosis.
    • Some other ways to check for clues of endometriosis are pelvic exams, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • While there is no cure for endometriosis, there are different options a patient can take depending on the severity of their condition. Some of these options are:
    • hormone therapy
    • pain medication
    • fertility treatment
    • surgery to remove endometriosis, which can also include hysterectomy

For more information, Northwell Health provides educational resources on the topic, as well as recommend Northwell physicians who specialize in endometriosis.