Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when tissue found in the uterine lining – called endometrial tissue – grows outside your uterus, usually in the abdominopelvic cavity. Some women have no symptoms of endometriosis and are often diagnosed when they seek treatment for infertility. Others may experience severe menstrual cramps and other pelvic pain.
Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
The endometrial tissue inside and outside of your uterus responds to your menstrual cycle hormones similarly: It swells and thickens, then sheds to mark the beginning of the next cycle. Unlike the menstrual blood from your uterus that is discharged through your vagina, the blood from the endometrial tissue in your abdominal cavity has no place to go.
Inflammation occurs in the areas where the blood pools, forming scar tissue. For pregnancy to occur, an egg must be released from an ovary, travel through the neighboring fallopian tube, become fertilized by a sperm cell, and attach itself to the uterine wall to begin development. Scar tissue can block the fallopian tubes or interfere with ovulation, which can result in infertility. Researchers estimate that a third to half of the women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.
Depending on the severity of the problem, endometriosis may be treated with surgery, medication, or both. In the case of infertility, if Dr. Abaé suspects endometriosis, he may recommend a laparoscopic procedure to diagnose as well as remove the tissue caused by endometriosis.
Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure that involves making one, two, or three minuscule cuts in the abdomen, through which the doctor inserts a laparoscope and specialized surgical instruments. A laparoscope is a thin, fiber-optic tube, fitted with a light and camera. Laparoscopy allows your doctor to see the abdominal organs and make repairs without making a larger incision that can require a longer recovery time and hospital stay. Laparoscopy is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia.
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