How will I know if I have endometriosis?

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If you have symptoms of this disease, talk with your doctor or your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN). An OB/GYN has special training to diagnose and treat this condition. Sometimes endometriosis is mistaken for other health problems that cause pelvic pain and the exact cause might be hard to pinpoint.

The doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and health history. The doctor may also do these tests to check for clues of endometriosis:

Pelvic exam: Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam to feel for large cysts or scars behind your uterus. Smaller areas of endometriosis are hard to feel.

Ultrasound: Your doctor could perform an ultrasound, an imaging test to see if there are ovarian cysts from endometriosis. During a vaginal ultrasound, the doctor will insert a wand-shaped scanner into your vagina. During an ultrasound of your pelvis, a scanner is moved across your abdomen. Both tests use sound waves to make pictures of your reproductive organs. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another common imaging test that can produce a picture of the inside of your body.

Laparoscopy: The only way for your doctor to know for sure that you have endometriosis is to look inside your abdomen to see endometriosis tissue. He or she can do this through a minor surgery called laparoscopy. You will receive general anesthesia before the surgery. Then, your abdomen is expanded with a gas to make it easy to see your organs. A tiny cut is made in your abdomen and a thin tube with a light is placed inside to see growths from endometriosis.

If your doctor does not find signs of an ovarian cyst during an ultrasound, before doing a laparoscopy, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to control your menstrual cycle. Sometimes this treatment helps lessen pelvic pain during your period. Some doctors may offer another treatment that blocks the menstrual cycle and lowers the amount of estrogen your body makes before doing a laparoscopy. This treatment is a medicine called a Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist, which also may help pelvic pain. If your pain improves on this medicine, the doctor will likely think that you have endometriosis.

This answer is based on source information from National Women's Health Information Center.

Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

The only way to diagnose endometriosis is by laparoscopic surgery. If I have a patient with the symptoms of endometriosis I will do an ultrasound and if it is normal then I will try birth control pills to help remedy their symptoms and if this is not successful then I proceed to a diagnostic laparoscopy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.