Endometriosis is a common condition that affects one in ten women. It happens when endometrial tissue, which normally forms the lining of your uterus (womb), appears in other parts of your body.
When you have endometriosis, these stray cells react to your hormones and cause symptoms that can seriously affect your everyday life.
Pain is one of the main symptoms of endometriosis. This can include pain that you experience:
- In your pelvic area
- During your periods, which may be heavy
- While you are having sex.
Urinary and bowel problems, which may also be painful, are other possible symptoms of endometriosis.
Endometriosis can make you feel very tired, and many women really struggle with this fatigue.
Endometriosis can also be linked to difficulties with getting pregnant (infertility).
Unfortunately, many women find that it takes a long time to get a diagnosis. It’s very frustrating when your symptoms are dismissed as "normal" period problems.
Your gynaecologist will listen carefully to your description of the symptoms and carry out a pelvic examination. If they suspect endometriosis, you might also have a vaginal ultrasound scan or an MRI scan. Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery might be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment can include painkillers, hormone-based birth control methods, other medicines, or surgery.
When you have endometriosis, it is very important to have care from a specialist team of healthcare professionals with detailed knowledge of the condition. If you want to have children, or it’s possible that you will want to in the future, your care should also involve input from a fertility expert.
For some women, keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery is an important part of endometriosis diagnosis and treatment.
It’s done under a general anaesthetic, so you sleep through the procedure.
Once you are under the anaesthetic, your gynaecologist will make some small incisions in your abdomen. Guided by a miniature camera that is inserted through one of the incisions, your doctor will inspect your pelvic organs thoroughly, and look for patches of endometriosis. They might take a sample of tissue to be examined more closely.
If they find endometrial tissue, your gynaecologist may be able to remove it during this keyhole procedure. This can be done by cutting the tissue out (excision) or destroying it with heat or energy (ablation).
Sometimes women with endometriosis have ovarian cysts, which may also be removed during this procedure.
One of the main goals of surgery is to reduce the pain caused by endometriosis.
Some women with endometriosis can become pregnant naturally, but others have difficulty conceiving. In some cases, surgery might help improve fertility, especially if the endometriosis is not severe.
There are different procedures so it partly depends on the specific kind of operation you have. Your consultant can tell you about the details.
In general, as with any operation there can be unexpected bleeding, blood clots, infection or a reaction to the anaesthetic.
With laparoscopy, organs such as the bowel, bladder or uterus can be damaged, but this is uncommon.
During the procedure, your doctor might discover that you need further, more extensive surgery.
After surgery for endometriosis, unfortunately the problem can sometimes come back, requiring another operation in the future.
If you decide on keyhole surgery for endometriosis, your gynaecologist will explain how possible problems can be prevented or managed. They will help you weigh up the risks and benefits to decide on the treatment choice that’s best for you.
Make an enquiry by email, ask us to call you back, or fast-track your treatment by booking an appointment with one of our skilled gynaecologists, for quick and expert care.