Endometriosis is a condition where the uterine lining tissue develops outside of the uterus. This can be quite painful for women and often leads to infertility. Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis; however, treatment can help with pain and infertility. Treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are and whether or not you are considering getting pregnant. If you have pain only, hormone therapy to lower your body’s estrogen levels will shrink the uterine tissue and may reduce pain. If you are considering becoming pregnant, having surgery, infertility treatment, or both may help.
Not all women with endometriosis experience pain and endometriosis does not always get worse over time. During pregnancy and after menopause, the condition usually improves. If you have mild pain, have no plans for a future pregnancy, or are near menopause (around age 50), you may not feel a need to undergo treatment, but the decision is yours.
If you have pain or bleeding but are not planning to get pregnant soon, birth control hormones such as the patch, the pill or the ring or anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) may be all that you need to control the pain. Birth control hormones are likely to keep endometriosis from getting worse but if you have severe symptoms or if birth control hormones and NSAIDs do not work, you might opt to try a stronger hormone therapy option.
Besides medicine, you can try other things at home to help with the pain, for example, applying heat to your belly or exercising regularly usually helps ease the symptoms.
If hormone therapy does not work or if the tissue lining is affecting other organs, surgery is the next viable option. Surgery removes endometrial growths and scar tissue and can usually be done through one or more small incisions, this method is called laparoscopy. Laparoscopy can improve pain and increase your chance of getting pregnant.
In some severe cases, removing the uterus and ovaries, referred to as hysterectomy and oophorectomy is an option. However, this surgery causes early menopause and it is only used when you have no pregnancy plans and have had little relief from other treatments.
If you are having trouble becoming pregnant even after surgery, you can consider trying fertility drugs with insemination or in vitro fertilization.