Endometriosis is a common but sometimes life-altering health problem that causes endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus shed during menstruation) to build up in other parts of the abdomen and pelvis. Despite its dislocation, this tissue acts just like endometrial tissue in that it builds up during your cycle and then is shed during menstruation, causing pain and inflammation throughout the abdomen and pelvis.
This causes pain during your period, during intercourse, and when you use the bathroom, in addition to other problems like scar tissue, excessive bleeding, and even infertility.
So when is it time for surgery?
Naturally, surgery comes with greater risk than less invasive treatments like ice, rest, and medication. For this reason, whether we’re talking about endometriosis or any other condition that can wreak havoc on the human body, surgery is reserved for patients who don’t respond well to less invasive treatment methods.
What this means is that your OBGYN will likely try the safest, least invasive methods first, and then move onto surgery if you don’t improve.
Anti-inflammatories and over-the-counter pain relievers are often very helpful in alleviating the primary symptom of endometriosis — pain leading up to and during menstruation. While these medications can help with pain, they don’t treat the underlying problem and may not help with excessive bleeding or infertility.
Hormonal birth control — especially when used to tri-cycle (or skip two of three periods) — can help reduce the frequency of symptom associated with endometriosis. This can be a very effective treatment method for women who aren’t trying to conceive, but for obvious reasons, it's not an option for women who are trying to grow their families.
If previous attempts at treatment have not been successful, you’re trying to conceive, and/or you have scar tissue, cysts, or endometrial tissue that require removal, your OBGYN might recommend surgery. He or she takes the whole picture, including your overall health and wellness as well as your treatment goals, into consideration when determining the safest, most effective treatment plan for you.
Patients who are trying to get pregnant often benefit from laparoscopic surgery to remove scar tissue and other abnormalities resulting from endometriosis.
Women who are done having children or who have advanced or widespread endometriosis find relief after a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Unfortunately, this makes it impossible to have biological children and is therefore reserved for extreme cases.
The only way to determine the right treatment for you is to schedule an appointment with an experienced OBGYN. Dr. Shakiba at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey, LLC, is an expert in the management and treatment of endometriosis, including surgery. Visit her website today to request a consultation appointment.