What is a pelvic exam for endometriosis?

You may need a pelvic exam for endometriosis because a pelvic exam is recommended for evaluation of any kind of pelvic pain. If the pain is from endometriosis, there usually will not be any specific findings from this exam.

A pelvic exam for endometriosis is often the first step in diagnosing this puzzling disease, in which tissue normally found only in the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, sometimes attaching to internal organs creating masses and scarring in the pelvic cavity and in rare cases outside of the pelvic cavity. During a pelvic exam for endometriosis, the doctor feels for cysts or scars behind the uterus, and checks for pain, tenderness and scar tissue when trying to move the uterus slightly. The doctor can also check the size and position of the ovaries and check for nodules behind the cervix and elsewhere in the pelvic cavity.

Endometriosis causes no symptoms in some women; in others, symptoms may include pelvic pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, heavy menstrual bleeding, pain and/or bleeding during urination, painful intercourse and infertility. If, after taking a medical history and performing a pelvic exam, a doctor suspects you have endometriosis, you may be referred for further testing. These additional examinations may include a vaginal ultrasound or a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy, in which the doctor can view all of the organs in the pelvic cavity via a thin tube equipped with a tiny camera inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. Imaging tests like an MRI, CT scan or barium enema with X-rays may be recommended as well.

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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.