Endometriosis is a chronic disease affecting up to ten million women in the United States. It is a gynecologic disease in which implants of the lining of the uterus are growing outside of the uterus. Endometriosis is responsible for approximately 80 percent of chronic pelvic pain cases and is the underlying cause of 40 percent of infertility cases.
Typical symptoms of endometriosis include progressively worsening menstrual pain, eventually chronic pelvic pain and deep pain with intercourse. Treatment for endometriosis often involves a combination of surgical and medical intervention.
Early, thorough surgical excision of endometriotic lesions may give the best chance to avoid chronic inflammation which may lead to pelvic scarring, and possibly infertility. Robotic surgery used in this treatment method offers significantly improved precision and magnified, three-dimensional vision.
After surgery, if the plan is to conceive, this should be attempted as soon as possible. If the patient is not ready conceive, a suppressant medical treatment is to be considered to maintain any microscopic lesion in an inactive state and prolong the symptom free period.
Currently, the most effective medical treatment is GnRH agonists, which unfortunately carry significant side effects and risks. The good news is that a new form of medical treatment, GnRH antagonists, is currently being studied and could potentially be FDA approved by 2016. Trials for this drug have demonstrated excellent effectiveness and minimal side effects.
If you are experiencing signs of endometriosis, it is extremely important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor, as early treatment intervention of the disease improves outcomes. Cone Health has an exceptional network of OB/GYN specialists and other related healthcare providers dedicated to caring for the many health conditions that are unique to women. To find a specialist near you, visit conehealth.com.
Dr. Marie-Lyne Lavoie is an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Wendover OB/GYN & Infertility and a member of the Cone Health Medical Staff. Dr. Lavoie was the first gynecologist in Greensboro and one of the first in North Carolina to perform robotic surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System, a sophisticated robotic platform designed to enable complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach. She is a 1991 medical school graduate from McGill University and completed her Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at Montreal University.