Endometriosis is a health condition that affects women, often without them even knowing it. The condition causes lining typically found inside the uterus to begin growing outside the uterus. They act much like the lining of the uterus, growing thicker as the menstrual cycle progresses. This can cause intense pain or the formation of cysts or scar tissue.
Fortunately, ultrasounds and other techniques can be used to diagnose endometriosis so that it can be treated.
Causes of Endometriosis
Doctors and researchers are not exactly sure what causes endometriosis, but they do believe that estrogen can worsen the condition. During menopause, the symptoms of the condition typically disappear because they no longer produce the high levels of endometriosis.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is associated with extreme pain as the lining grows, often felt in the vagina, rectum, back, or abdominal area. The pain may also be felt during ovulation, sexual intercourse, or while using the bathroom. Endometriosis is also associated with heavy periods or spotting between periods. Some women with the condition also experience infertility.
The Use of Ultrasounds in Diagnosing Endometriosis
Thankfully, doctors can use ultrasounds to pinpoint endometriosis. Transabdominal and transvaginal ultrasounds are both useful.
Transabdominal ultrasounds are non-invasive and involve putting a device over the abdominal area. It allows for a broad view of the contents of the abdomen.
The transvaginal ultrasound requires the doctor to place a device into the vagina, creating clear images of the organs in the pelvis. The images are more detailed than in the transabdominal ultrasound, providing pictures of the uterus, endometrium, cervix, and ovaries.
Treatment of Endometriosis
After the ultrasound diagnosis of endometriosis, patients have options for treatment. While there is no cure for the condition, it can be treated with hormones. Your doctor may seek to lower the amount of estrogen in your body with hormone therapy. Birth control with hormonal elements is also helpful in treating the pain.
Laparoscopic surgery can help to remove the cysts and scar tissue that may also be causing pain. In extreme cases, the doctor may choose to remove the uterus and ovaries. Women who want to get pregnant in the future will consider their options at this point.
Endometriosis is painful, but ultrasounds and other medical technology can make it easier for you to approach treatment with a solid diagnosis. It is never easy to battle a medical condition linked to fertility, but understanding it is the first step.