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Diagnosis and Treatment of Endometriosis
The only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis is with a biopsy.
Obtaining a biopsy when diagnosing endometriosis is usually done during a type of surgery called a laparoscopy. During the procedure, the doctor uses a small telescope-like tube called a laparoscope to look for signs of endometriosis on the outside of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
Although endometrial growths are not usually cancerous, endometriosis has “stages” like cancers. The four stages of endometriosis are based on the number, location, and depth of the lesions in the pelvic organs:
- Stage I (minimal): only superficial lesions
- Stage II (mild): more lesions and slightly deeper lesions
- Stage III (moderate): deep lesions and small cysts on one or both ovaries
- Stage IV (severe): extensive lesions; large, deep lesions and cysts; large cysts on one or both ovaries
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are a variety of treatment options. Treatment may provide pain relief, stop the progression of the disease, and preserve or restore fertility. The type of treatment recommended depends on whether or not you want to get pregnant. If your only concern is to reduce the pain and bleeding, taking hormone medication will stop ovulation and shrink the lesions. However, this therapy also prevents pregnancy.
A laparoscopy is a good choice for women who plan to get pregnant or who are having problems getting pregnant. During laparoscopy the physician can cut out and remove adhesions and scar tissue that may be causing pain or infertility or use a laser beam or electric current to destroy them, as well as remove a cyst found on an ovary.
The symptoms of endometriosis usually improve if you become pregnant.