found to have a higher risk of developing endometriosis.
Other risk factors for developing the illness include a family history of endometriosis, menstruating at an early age, and having your first child after the age of 30.
How The Condition Is Diagnosed
Diagnosing endometriosis can happen in stages. It starts with your doctor conducting a physical examination and asking detailed questions about your symptoms. Imaging tests such as an ultrasound, a CT scan, or an MRI scan can also be helpful to confirm the presence, size, and location of the abnormal tissue. A diagnosis is only considered official, however, after the doctor does a laparoscopy and biopsies the tissue that is recovered.
All these diagnostic tools will be helpful to determine the stage of the disease. A stage is based on where the tissue is located, its depth, how much of the tissue there is, its size, and how deeply it’s embedded in your body.
For example, in the first or minimal stage, growths are typically small and few in number. The tissue may be found on your organs or the tissue lining your pelvis or abdomen and there’s little to no scar tissue.
By comparison, the fourth or severe stage means that the tissue is widespread, including deeply implanted tissue and thick adhesions. There may also be large cysts on one or both ovaries.
Additionally, the affected area of the pelvis or abdomen will be used to determine the type of endometriosis you have. The four options are superficial peritoneal endometriosis, endometriomas, deeply infiltrating endometriosis (DIE), and abdominal wall endometriosis. Both the type and stage will be used to identify an appropriate treatment regimen for you.
How Endometriosis Is Treated
Typically, your doctor will start with conservative treatment options such as pain medication and hormone therapy. Painkillers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage your pain while hormone therapy drugs like contraceptives are meant to control hormonal fluctuations. If these methods aren’t effective, surgery is usually the next consideration. Fortunately, there are conservative possibilities for those who are still interested in having children.
In laparoscopic surgery, a surgeon uses a small device to remove the abnormal endometrial tissue. This procedure may need to be repeated as the tissue can regrow. If your symptoms are severe, however, your doctor may recommend having a hysterectomy. One option includes removing only the ovaries, which would result in menopause. The other option is a complete hysterectomy which removes the uterus as well.
It’s estimated that up to 10% of Americans are dealing with endometriosis but many Black women are either misdiagnosed or don’t get diagnosed at an early stage. If you’re having symptoms of the illness, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible.