Endometriosis | Diagnosis and Treatment

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How is endometriosis diagnosed?

There are no x-rays or blood tests to diagnose endometriosis. The only 100 percent way to be certain of the condition is to have a procedure called a laparoscopy. This surgical procedure allows a doctor to look at the pelvic organs with a tiny camera. Other tests that your physician may order before the laparoscopy include:

  • blood tests or vaginal cultures (to check for infection)
  • a pelvic ultrasound or MRI (to rule out other conditions)

What are the treatment options for endometriosis?

Hormonal treatments

Hormonal treatment such as birth control pills taken continuously can relieve symptoms in many patients. A gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (Gn-RH), such as Lupron-Depot®, works by shutting off hormones made by the ovaries and temporarily stopping your period. It lowers the body's estrogen level and causes the endometrial implants to shrink. This medicine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be used for six months at a time. If used for over six months, studies have found it can cause changes in bone density. When the GnRH agonist therapy is needed for longer than six months, it is used with another therapy to protect your bones. 

Danazol is a drug that blocks the production of ovarian-stimulating hormones, preventing menstruation and the symptoms of endometriosis. However, danazol can cause unwanted side effects, such as acne and facial hair. Medroxyprogesterone (Depo-Provera) is aninjectable drug that stops menstruation and the growth of endometrial implants. It stops the pain of endometriosis, but it can also lead to weight gain, decreased bone production and depressed mood.

Aromatase inhibitors are agents used to treat breast cancer and endometriosis. They work by blocking the production of estrogen, which deprives the endometrial cells the estrogen they need to grow.

Surgery

During a laparoscopy, a physician destroys the visible endometriosis. Many teens find relief from the symptoms after this procedure, but some find the pain returns over time. Pain treatment services, such as biofeedback or physical therapy may be used. And, hysterectomy is a last resort for women who no longer desire children and experience severe pain.

What can my daughter do for herself?

Girls with endometriosis should always help their bodies cope with pain by exercising regularly and following a healthy diet. When she goes to talk with her physician about her symptoms, she should bring a pain diary for her doctor to review. 

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