Endometriosis is a common women’s health problem and one of the top three causes of female infertility, yet many women go for years without a diagnosis. Endometriosis is characterized by unnatural growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. Typically, endometrial cells make up the blood-rich lining of the uterus where the fertilized egg implants during the first stages of pregnancy. When those cells collect outside the uterine lining, they can cause pain, irregular periods and infertility. Endometriosis can grow for years before a proper diagnosis is made. In some cases, untreated endometriosis can cause permanent fertility problems.

The cause of endometriosis has yet to be determined, but many researchers and doctors believe the condition is genetic. If a family member suffered from the condition, a woman is seven times more likely to suffer as well. Due to the potential spread of endometrial cells, many women undergo unnecessary medical tests and treatments due to misdiagnosis. Other women are given pain medications to deal with the pain for years before endometriosis is identified.

According to researchers presenting at the AAGL Global Congress of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, simple laparoscopic excision surgery is enough to stop the pain associated with endometriosis. During the surgery, a small incision is made and instruments are fed through the small incision to remove endometrial cells. The surgery is minimally invasive and recovery time is short.

Also discussed at the meeting were potential treatment options for women with varying stages of endometriosis. Depending on where the cells have accumulated and how deep the cells have penetrated into the tissue, doctors must choose a proper treatment. In some cases, endometriosis cannot be removed with a simple scraping of the endometrial cells. Sections of the affected organ may have to be removed if the condition is left undiagnosed and untreated.

Endometriosis is a hot topic is women’s health; not just because it affects so many women, but because endometriosis is extremely similar to cancer. If doctors can learn more about endometriosis and how the condition develops and grows, they can also learn more about cancer.

Source: Multiple Presenters. AAGL 40th Global Congress of Minimally Invasive Gynecology. 8 November, 2011.