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Severe pelvic pain and difficulty getting pregnant may be signs of a medical condition called endometriosis. OB/GYN and pediatrician Dr. Sara O’Heron and the compassionate team at Lifeboat Medical Associates in Peachtree City, Georgia develop a personalized treatment plan to help you cope with endometriosis. If you think you have endometriosis, call or book an appointment online.

What is endometriosis?

The endometrium is the tissue that normally grows inside your uterus and sheds during your menstrual period. When you have endometriosis, this tissue develops outside your uterus and in places it doesn’t belong. Endometriosis commonly affects the following organs:

  • Ovaries
  • Fallopian tubes
  • Pelvic lining
  • The outer surface of your uterus

Less often, endometrium may grow on your intestines, bladder, or other parts of your body such as the lungs and brain.

Who gets endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common health problem that affects about 11% of women of childbearing age. Any woman who menstruates can get endometriosis, but certain factors may increase your risk, such as:

  • A family history of endometriosis
  • Menstrual cycles of 27 days or less
  • Never having had children

Endometriosis typically develops several years after you begin menstruating and ends permanently with menopause.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

The endometrium that grows outside your uterus continues to behave like normal endometrium, growing and shedding with your menstrual cycle. Since the abnormal tissue has no way to exit your body, endometriosis often causes pelvic pain.

Other common symptoms of endometriosis include:

  • Bleeding or spotting in between periods
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Painful sex
  • Painful urination or bowel movements
  • Infertility, or difficulty getting pregnant

The severity of pain doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of your condition. You may experience intense pain with a mild case of endometriosis or little to no pain with an advanced case of this disease.

How do you diagnose and treat endometriosis?

First, Dr. O’Heron or a member of her expert team performs a physical and pelvic exam and reviews your medical history. If they suspect endometriosis, they may perform an in-office pelvic ultrasound to look for abnormal growths.

Then, they develop a treatment plan to address your individual needs. If you don’t want to get pregnant, endometriosis treatment may include birth control pills or an intrauterine device (IUD).

If you are trying to get pregnant and have endometriosis, Dr. O’Heron may prescribe a different type of hormone therapy to temporarily stop menstruation until symptoms improve. Your periods and ability to get pregnant resume when you stop taking the medication.

In some cases, Dr. O’Heron may need to perform a minimally invasive surgical procedure called laparoscopy to diagnose or treat endometriosis.

To find relief from painful symptoms of endometriosis, call Lifeboat Medical Associates or book an appointment online.