Whether you're looking for relief from endometriosis symptoms or struggling to get pregnant with endometriosis, we can help.

Endometriosis is a common condition in which the endometrium — the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus — also grows outside of the uterus. In most people with endometriosis, it grows in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis. This can cause pain, heavy periods and difficulty getting pregnant, among other problems.

While there isn't a cure for endometriosis, there are many treatment options that can give you relief. The women's health team at MU Health Care will help you understand which options are the best for you.

Endometriosis symptoms: when to get help

Some people with endometriosis have no symptoms. But many people experience one or more of the following:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Cramping before your menstrual period
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Pain (especially lower back pain) during your period
  • Pain during sex
  • Discomfort during bowel movements
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

Having these symptoms doesn't necessarily mean you have endometriosis. In some cases, the symptoms may be signs of another condition. But if you have any of them, you should make an appointment with an OB/GYN.

Endometriosis diagnosis at MU Health Care

Because the symptoms of endometriosis are similar to the symptoms of other conditions, it's important to get an expert diagnosis. At MU Health Care, endometriosis specialists offer the full range of diagnostic options.

Depending on your specific case, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Detailed health history
  • Pelvic exam to feel your abdomen for cysts or scars
  • Ultrasound, which provides images of your reproductive organs and can help identify any cysts or scarring
  • Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgery in which your doctor collects a sample of the tissue through small incisions in your abdomen

Using these tests, our experts will confirm whether you have endometriosis.

They'll also determine what stage of endometriosis you have. Endometriosis stages depend on the size, location and number of tissue growths. Stage 1 is the mildest, and stage 4 the most severe. It's important to know what stage you have, because different treatments may work better at different stages.

Endometriosis treatment at MU Health Care

MU Health Care offers a variety of treatment options to help you manage endometriosis symptoms. After discussing your symptoms and any plans you may have to get pregnant, your doctor will create a treatment plan tailored to you. It may include one or more of the following:

  • Pain medications: Over-the-counter pain medications may reduce your pain and discomfort.
  • Hormone therapy: By regulating the hormones that promote tissue growth, hormone therapy may relieve pain and stop endometriosis from getting worse.
  • Hormonal contraceptives: Birth control pills, patches or vaginal rings can slow or stop monthly endometrial tissue growth. This often reduces pain in mild or moderate endometriosis.
  • Medication therapy: There are multiple medications that stop you from having a period. In doing so, they also reduce endometriosis symptoms.
  • Excision surgery: If medications and hormonal therapies aren't working, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive excision surgery. During this procedure, they'll carefully remove endometriosis growths through small incisions. It can be an effective way to reduce your symptoms without damaging your uterus or other reproductive organs.
  • Hysterectomy: As a last resort, you and your doctor may decide a hysterectomy is a good option. During a hysterectomy, your doctor removes your uterus. They may also remove your ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix and any endometrial tissue. It's a very effective way to stop symptoms. But it's irreversible, and you'll no longer be able to conceive a pregnancy.

Expert care for endometriosis and pregnancy

Endometriosis affects fertility in two ways. First, endometrial tissue outside the uterus can change the placement of the fallopian tubes. This affects their ability pick up the egg during ovulation. Second, endometriosis causes inflammation, which can affect how your uterus, ovaries, eggs, or fallopian tubes work.

Endometriosis experts at MU Health Care offer a variety of treatment options to help with both of these problems. If you've been diagnosed with endometriosis or are having unexplained fertility problems, our fertility clinic can help.