Endometriosis is a condition where tissue mimicking endometrial tissue in the uterus is found growing outside the uterus, usually on organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, or rectum.
Although endometriosis has no cure, the associated symptoms are manageable through a range of treatments. In this article, we’ll discuss endometriosis treatments and what options are available.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Although there are several theories about the cause of endometriosis, the exact source of the condition remains unknown. Some researchers believe that the process of endometriosis begins during fetal development and eventually manifests in response to puberty hormones.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Symptoms of endometriosis can vary from woman to woman, in that many women feel no symptoms at all, while others experience mild symptoms and some experience severe and intense pain.
Typically, it is the hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle that intensify the symptoms of endometriosis. This change in hormones, an increase in estrogen, in particular, can cause the endometrial tissue outside the uterus to become inflamed and painful to the point that it eventually breaks apart, but remains in the pelvis.
This broken-down endometrial tissue, which remains stuck in the pelvis can result in adhesions to pelvic organs, pelvic pain, irritation, scar formation, and fertility issues. Additional symptoms may include painful cramping around the time of menstruation, heavy bleeding, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and uncomfortable bowel movements.
Should you suspect you might be suffering from endometriosis, take note of your symptoms and at what time during your menstrual cycles they occur. Knowing this information will help your doctor to determine what tests should be carried out for diagnosis.
A laparoscopy performed to obtain a biopsy for testing is required for a true diagnosis of Endometriosis. Other typical clinical tests to check for endometrial implants (where endometrial tissue has attached outside the uterus) include a pelvic exam and an ultrasound.
In some cases, your doctor may also schedule an MRI for a more detailed view of the pelvic organs themselves, however the endometriosis tissue is most often not visible on imaging, which is why laproscopic procedures are required for proper diagnosis.
Natural Treatment Options for Endometriosis
While medication and surgical options are available to reduce symptoms associated with endometriosis, most female health experts recommend trying natural remedies and lifestyle changes first or while pursuing these options.
Warm baths and heat pads or hot water bottles placed on top or under the pelvic area can help to relax tight pelvic muscles and reduce pain associated with endometriosis. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory or pain medication like ibuprofen or Aleve can also help to relieve cramping and lower back pain.
Pelvic wands can be used to massage and relax the deep muscles of the pelvic floor. Here at Intimate Rose, our patented Pelvic Wand was designed specifically by pelvic health experts to help relieve pain caused by endometriosis, in tender pelvic areas. The silicone wand is used to gently sweep through the vaginal opening to release tender point in the pelvis.
It is recommended that the tip of the wand is then gently pressed against the tender point with a soft firmness of how one might test a tomato for ripeness. One to two minutes of gentle pressure on each tender point significantly releases tightness and pelvic pain.
Physical Therapy & Acupuncture
Specialized physical therapists, who focus on female health and pelvic conditions, can provide ongoing relief from the pain associated with endometriosis, and teach you self-massage techniques to do at home. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, also offers relief to endometriosis patients when practiced on a preventative basis.
It’s always good to talk. And sometimes, just being around other women who understand your pain and experiences can feel incredibly supportive. These days, there are support groups for women with endometriosis in local communities as well as online.
Medical & Surgical Treatments for Endometriosis
If home remedies and alternative treatments fail to provide relief, doctors will either prescribe medication or surgery to treat symptoms of endometriosis. Women often react differently to the different medical options so it’s important to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works best for you.
- Over-the-counter pain medication, like ibuprofen or Aleve, can sometimes suffice in providing relief for patients suffering from mild endometriosis symptoms.
- Hormone therapy in supplement form can also help the body to balance the monthly hormone fluctuations responsible for intensifying endometriosis symptoms.
- Birth control pills, patches, or IUDs, as well as a medication called Danazol, are sometimes prescribed to prevent menstruation which, in turn, prevents the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists and antagonists are prescribed to prevent the production of estrogen and ovulation in more severe cases of endometriosis. Preventing the production of estrogen could trigger what is known as artificial menopause, however, taking small doses of progesterone at the same time can prevent this.
Surgical Options for Treating Endometriosis
Excision surgery involving laproscopic procedures are the best way to truly eliminate endometriosis in the body. A conservative surgical procedure is usually performed in patients who are unresponsive to hormonal treatment including those who still wish to become pregnant.
A laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery where small incisions are made in the abdomen to either insert a camera for investigation or surgical lasers to vaporize endometrial implants.
As a last resort, when severe pain recurs after a laparoscopy, doctors might recommend a hysterectomy where the uterus, ovaries, and cervix are removed to completely stop the production of estrogen. This is known as a total hysterectomy.
Other types of hysterectomies include a partial hysterectomy and a radical hysterectomy. During a partial hysterectomy, only the upper portion of the uterus is removed and the cervix is left in place.
A radical hysterectomy involves removing the entire uterus, cervix, and the top portion of the vagina. This type of hysterectomy is usually performed when cancer cells are detected as well as severe endometrial implants.
Endometriosis is a condition that can produce mild to severe symptoms in women during their reproductive years. The cause of endometriosis is unknown and there is no known cure. Symptoms, however, depending on their severity, can be managed with natural remedies, medication, or surgery.
Should you suspect you are suffering from endometriosis, make an appointment to consult with your doctor about a treatment plan. The earlier endometriosis is diagnosed, the easier it is to find a treatment plan to address your symptoms.
Mayo Clinic – Endometriosis - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354661
Endometriosis Research Center – Do you Have Endo? - https://www.endocenter.org/do-you-have-endo/
Endometriosis Association – Treatments For Endometriosis - https://endometriosisassn.org/about-endometriosis/treatments
Endometriosis Foundation of America - All Birth Control Pills Aren't Created Equal In Managing Endometriosis -
The New England Journal of Medicine - Treatment of Endometriosis-Associated Pain with Elagolix, an Oral GnRH Antagonist- https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa1700089