ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women worldwide. It can cause pain — sometimes severe. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.
Endometriosis is a common condition where tissue that usually lines the inside of a woman’s uterus, grows outside causing a range of symptoms, mainly pelvic pain.
“It really tends to be primarily a disorder related to pain. Anywhere from 80% plus of the people who ultimately have endometriosis have pain as their presenting or number one symptom,” said OBGYN Dr. Katherine Cartwright with Albany Obstetrics and Gynecology.
She says endometriosis is usually identified in the 25 to 35 age range. The vague symptoms, including painful periods, can mean a lag in diagnosis.
“We do know that there’s a significant delay in diagnosis from the time that somebody first has symptoms until the time that they are told, ‘you have or likely have endometriosis.’ It’s anywhere from 5 to 10 years.”
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, no treatment may be needed. Sometimes the pain can be managed with over the counter meds.
“For other people, we really need to suppress the hormones that feed the endometriosis that caused a lot of the inflammation that then causes pain,” said Dr. Cartwright.
Hormonal birth control can manage symptoms but if they’re too severe, there are more invasive treatments.
“Then we start talking about surgery to remove these areas of abnormal cells that have created areas of endometriosis that cause pain”
in a laparoscopy, a surgeon can remove scar tissue that may be causing pain or infertility—another common symptom of endometriosis. Up to 25% of women with the condition have difficulty conceiving.
“It does not mean that if you have a diagnosis of endometriosis that she won’t be able to conceive but in the work up for infertility that’s something that is certainly should be considered.”