Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a very common condition where cells of the lining of the womb (theendometrium) are found elsewhere, usually in the pelvis and around the womb,ovaries and fallopian tubes. It mainly affects women during their reproductiveyears. It can affect women from every social group and ethnicity. Endometriosis isnot an infection and it is not contagious. Endometriosis is not cancer.

The main symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain, pain during or after sex,painful, sometimes heavy periods and, for some women, problems with gettingpregnant.Endometriosis can affect many aspects of a woman’s life including her generalphysical health, emotional wellbeing and daily routine.Some women do not have any symptoms at all.

Endometriosis occurs when the cells ofthe lining of the womb are found in otherparts of the body, usually the pelvis. Eachmonth this tissue outside the wombthickens and breaks down and bleeds inthe same way as the lining of the womb.This internal bleeding into the pelvis,unlike a period, has no way of leaving thebody. This causes inflammation, pain anddamage to the reproductive organs.

Endometriosis commonly occurs in the pelvis. It can be found:

• on the ovaries where it can form cysts (often referred to as ‘chocolate cysts’)
• in or on the fallopian tubes
• almost anywhere on, behind or around the womb
• in the peritoneum (the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most ofthe organs in the abdomen).
Less commonly, endometriosis may occur on the bowel and bladder, or deep within themuscle wall of the uterus (adenomyosis). It can also rarely be found in other parts ofthe body.It is not yet known why endometriosis occurs.

Ultrasoundcan identify whether there is an endometriosis cystin the ovaries. A normal scan does not rule out endometriosis.For most women, having a laparoscopy is the only way to get a definite diagnosis;because of this, it is often referred to as the ‘gold standard’ test. A laparoscopy is asmall operation which is carried out under general anaesthesia.

The options for treatment may be:

• Pain-relieving drugs reduce inflammation and help to ease the pain.
• Hormone treatments. There is a range of hormone treatments to stop or reduce ovulation (the release of anegg) to allow the endometriosis to shrink or disappear.
• Laparoscopic surgery can be used to remove areas of endometriosis by destroying them or cutting them out.
Not all cases of endometriosis can be cured and for some women there is no long-termtreatment that helps. With support many women find ways to live with and managethis condition.

Dr. Sagimole Tojichen
Specialist Obstetrics / Gynecology
International Modern Hospital Dubai
For Appointments : 971 4 406 3000