The month of March is endometriosis month. We are therefore paying extra attention to endometriosis this month. The condition affects an estimated 10% of women (in the fertile phase of life). Often, complaints are not directly linked to endometriosis by general practitioners or specialists because they sometimes also resemble complaints that indicate another condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
What is Endometriosis?
There is a thin layer of mucous membrane on the inside of the uterus. This mucous membrane thickens every month in preparation for pregnancy. If you do not become pregnant after ovulation, this mucosal layer breaks down again after about 2 weeks. and starts bleeding. This blood (along with some mucus) is your period.
If you have endometriosis, there is tissue similar to this mucus outside the uterus. For example, in the abdominal cavity or ovaries.
Just like in the womb, this mucous membrane grows and breaks down, but it can't get out like a menstrual period. It then ends up in the abdominal cavity, in the ovary or between the uterus and the bladder or rectum. This causes inflammation.
The cause of endometriosis is not clear. It may be hereditary, but this has not yet been proven.
Endometriosis is a benign condition, but it does not go away on its own.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The complaints can vary greatly. Both per person and per period. Complaints also depend on the location of the mucous membrane. Almost everyone experiences pain.
- Pain during menstruation
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain when urinating or defecating
- Constant abdominal pain
- fertility problems
Examination and diagnosis
- Gynecological internal examination
- Ultrasound examination.
- MRI scan: If there are clear indications of endometriosis on the basis of the complaints or a physical examination, an MRI scan may be performed to map out the extent of the endometriosis.
- Keyhole surgery: if, in addition to suspected endometriosis, there is also a question of fertility problems, keyhole surgery can be considered.
The choice of treatment depends on the complaints. In the first instance, the gynecologist will probably prescribe a treatment based on medication, but if the complaints are severe and the medication is not sufficient, an operative treatment can be discussed.
Consequences of endometriosis
In addition to the, sometimes daily, complaints, endometriosis also affects fertility. Of the 10 women who have difficulty getting pregnant, 3 have endometriosis. Usually, the worse and more extensive the endometriosis is, the less likely it is that someone will become pregnant without medical help.