Endometriosis occurs when tissue known as the endometrium grows outside of the uterus instead of inside, where it is normally found. Symptoms may include pain before and during your menstrual cycle, as well as gastrointestinal upsets. This condition can also cause infertility. Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can can recommend safe and effective endometriosis treatment at our Houston, TX, practice. She may perform laser laparoscopic surgery to remove as much of the tissue as possible, improving your chances of pregnancy. For patients who wish to avoid surgery, Dr. Kristiansen can prescribe hormone therapy as an initial treatment method.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful condition that occurs when the inner lining of the uterus grows on the outside of the uterus. The condition can spread to your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvis. In a healthy uterus, the uterine tissue thickens throughout the menstrual cycle and then breaks down and exits during menstruation.
When tissue develops outside the uterus, it functions as usual. However, because it is not shed monthly through menstruation, the tissue continues to thicken and spread, causing irritation, scar tissue, adhesions, and abnormal bonding between tissues and organs. This can result in tubal damage or blockage, ovarian cysts, and damaged eggs, which can negatively affect your fertility.
The most common side effects of endometriosis occur during the menstrual cycle and can include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. Other symptoms associated with endometriosis include:
- Painful periods
- Heavy periods
- Intermittent bleeding in between periods
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during bowel movements
- Pain during intercourse
Because the symptoms of endometriosis can be nonexistent or mistaken for other conditions, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), it is often misdiagnosed unless a transvaginal sonogram is performed. When meeting with your gynecologist during routine exams, it is important to review any and all symptoms to ensure a proper diagnosis.
If Dr. Kristiansen suspects endometriosis, she will perform a transvaginal sonogram to view the inside of your uterus and ovaries. During testing, Dr. Kristiansen can insert a small device, known as a transducer, into your vagina. This tool uses high-frequency sound wave technology to capture images on a nearby computer screen. These scans can be used to identify any uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts causing complications.
In cases where further testing is required, Dr. Kristiansen may recommend an advanced laparoscopy evaluation. During this outpatient surgical procedure, you will be placed under general anesthesia so Dr. Kristiansen can make small incisions in the lower abdomen. She can then carefully insert a mini-telescope through the incisions to view organs within the pelvis.
In cases where Dr. Kristiansen suspects endometriosis after a transvaginal sonogram, she may recommend medication as a first line of defense, especially for patients who want to avoid surgery. This treatment plan involves hormone therapy to slow the endometrial growth and control painful symptoms.
By reconstructing your pelvic organs and removing diseased tissue, Dr. Kristiansen can significantly improve your chances of conception.
For patients who choose to undergo an advanced laparoscopy evaluation, Dr. Kristiansen can perform laparoscopic laser surgery to remove abnormal adhesions, cysts, and tissue growth during the same procedure. She can also repair damaged fallopian tubes. By reconstructing your pelvic organs and removing diseased tissue, Dr. Kristiansen can significantly improve your chances of conception.
Contact Our Office
If you suspect you may have endometriosis, it is important to visit with a specialist who is board-certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI), such as Dr. Kristiansen. This can help to prevent further complications and improve your chances for a safe pregnancy and smooth delivery. Contact our office online today to schedule a consultation, or call our Houston office at (713) 862-6181.