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  • How is endometriosis diagnosed and treated?

A doctor will examine you and may do a minor surgical procedure called laparoscopy to see if you have endometriosis. Endometriosis treatment can include medicine or surgery.

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How can I find out if I have endometriosis?

Talk to your doctor or nurse if you think you might have endometriosis. They’ll ask you about your symptoms and do a pelvic exam to check for cysts or scars. They may also do an imaging test like an ultrasound or MRI.

The only way to know for sure if you have endometriosis is with a minor surgical procedure called a laparoscopy: A doctor will make a small cut in your belly and insert a thin tube with a tiny light called a laparoscope to look for the tissue growing outside the uterus. They might also do a biopsy, to take a small sample of tissue to test.

Is there treatment for endometriosis?

Endometriosis can’t be cured, but it can be treated with medicine or surgery. If your symptoms aren’t too bad, pain relievers may be enough to help. If you don’t want to get pregnant right now, your doctor or nurse can prescribe hormonal birth control (like the pill or a hormonal IUD) to cut down on pain and bleeding. There are other medications you can take for endometriosis if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Surgery for endometriosis may be an option for you if your symptoms are really bad or if you want to get pregnant but haven’t been able to. A surgeon will remove the growths that are outside of your uterus, cutting down on pain and making it easier for you to get pregnant. But often the growths come back after surgery, so you may need to take medication, too. As a last resort, some people have a hysterectomy — removing the uterus and sometimes the ovaries, though it’s impossible to become pregnant after that.

Where should I go if I think I might have endometriosis?

Make an appointment with your doctor or nurse, or visit a Planned Parenthood health center near you if you have symptoms of endometriosis.

More questions from patients:

What happens during laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis?

When you have endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows in places it’s not supposed to — like on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the outside of your uterus.

A minor surgery called a laparoscopy can diagnose endometriosis by looking at your internal reproductive organs, and sometimes collecting a tissue sample to test. Most people who have laparoscopic surgery get general anesthesia, which keeps you asleep during the procedure. Sometimes you only need local anesthesia (when you’re awake but certain parts of your body are numbed so you can’t feel anything).

During laparoscopic surgery, the doctor makes a small cut in your belly, and puts in the laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a light and a camera. The camera on the laparoscope shows your organs on a screen. They use gas to inflate your belly, so the doctor can see inside your body more clearly. The doctor may make more small cuts to use other surgical tools. They may also put an instrument into your vagina and cervix that moves your organs to help the doctor see them. The doctor looks for endometrial tissue growing outside of your uterus. They may also remove a small amount of tissue during the procedure for testing (this is called a biopsy).

After the surgery, you’ll feel sleepy and you may be nauseous from the anesthesia. You can usually go home the same day, but you’ll need somebody to help you get home. You might be tired and sore for a few days afterwards — it may hurt around the cuts in your belly, in your throat where they put a breathing tube in during the procedure, or in your shoulders or back from the gas they used. If pain and nausea don’t go away in a few days or get worse, call your doctor.

You might have to avoid strenuous activity or exercise for a few days. But most of the time, you can get back to your regular activities 1-2 days after the surgery. Your doctor will let you know how to care for yourself afterward.

If you think you have endometriosis, make an appointment with your doctor or nurse, or visit a Planned Parenthood health center near you.

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