March is Endometriosis Awareness Month: Here’s What You Need to Know
Endometriosis is a disease impacting millions of women, yet many suffer in silence with symptoms that have either been misdiagnosed or left untreated. Los Angeles gynecologist Dr. David Ghozland says treatment options for endometriosis do exist, and he’s out to educate women seeking treatment and relief.
One woman in 10 of reproductive age has endometriosis, but unfortunately it can take years to get an accurate diagnosis. During that time, women may experience severe pain that impacts their professional and personal lives.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the womb is found elsewhere in the body – most commonly in the abdomen, ovaries, recto-vaginal area, bladder and bowel. The misplaced tissue produces monthly bleeding and can cause severe chronic pain.
“Endometriosis has been known to impact women of all ages,” says Dr. Ghozland. “It is diagnosed in teens, young women and women in mid-life. Finding a doctor who can recognize the symptoms is the first step toward finding an effective treatment.”
Every woman is different and may experience a variety of symptoms, but in general, the most common, telltale signs of endometriosis include:
- Pain the lower abdomen, lower back, pelvis, rectum, or vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse or during bowel movements
- Heavy menstruation, irregular menstruation, painful menstruation, or spotting
- Abdominal fullness or cramping
- Constipation or nausea
- Infertility or irregular uterine bleeding
Women with any of these symptoms should be referred to a gynecologist like Dr. Ghozland, who will perform a laparoscopic procedure to confirm a diagnosis of endometriosis. Treatment for endometriosis is usually with medications or surgery. The approach you and your doctor choose will depend on the severity of symptoms and whether you hope to become pregnant in the future. Generally, doctors begin treatment with a conservative approach, using medication, and hormonal therapies first and opting for surgery as a last resort.
If surgical intervention is required, Dr. Ghozland prefers minimally invasive surgery that preserves as much of the uterus and ovaries as possible. In severe cases of endometriosis, a full hysterectomy may be the best option. Dr. Ghozland regularly consults with his Los Angeles-area patients regarding the best treatment plans for their particular circumstances, as eliminating the symptoms of endometriosis never calls for a one-size-fits-all approach.