For many women, it can take time and be difficult to receive the correct diagnosis for endometriosis. This is because the symptoms are often similar to other conditions and can be different for each person, indeed some women have no obvious symptoms but may just be experiencing problems becoming pregnant.
For this reason, if you have any of the symptoms or suspect you may have endometriosis, it is important to see a specialist to receive a firm diagnosis and ensure you can receive the care and treatment needed.
What will the Consultant ask?
Your consultant will need to know as much about your lifestyle and symptoms as possible – they will ask about:
- any pain you have, is there a pattern or is related to anything, in particular your periods
- your periods and if they are they painful and how heavy are they
- if you have any pain or discomfort during sex
- any problems with your bowels or urinary symptoms at the time of your period
- any difficulty you may have experienced becoming pregnant if you have one or more of the above symptoms
The consultant may carry out an internal examination (with your consent) allowing the doctor to feel for any lumps or tender areas and allow you to explain exactly where the pain is. A chaperone will always be present during this examination and you will have plenty of time to discuss any concerns and ask other questions about your experiences.
What tests may be needed?
Your specialist may offer further tests, Tests e.g. a pelvic ultrasound scan. This may be a transvaginal scan (Transvaginal means across or through the vagina – the ultrasound probe will be placed inside the vagina during the test) to check the uterus and ovaries. It may show whether there is an endometriotic (also known as a ‘chocolate’) cyst in the ovaries or may suggest endometriosis between the vagina and rectum. An MRI scan may be suggested if the condition appears to be advanced.
You may be offered a laparoscopy, which is the only way to receive a definite diagnosis. This is carried out under a general anaesthetic where small cuts are made in your abdomen and a telescope is inserted to look at your pelvis. You may have a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and images may be taken for your medical records.
Your Consultant may suggest treating the endometriosis at the time of your first laparoscopy, either by removing cysts on the ovaries or treating any areas on the lining of your pelvis. This may avoid a second operation. However, sometimes, the extent of endometriosis found means that you may need further tests or treatment.
The procedure, including any risks and the benefits, will be discussed with you. After your operation you be will told the results. You can often go home the same day after a laparoscopy. For more information – please see the leaflet on Laparoscopy.
Once you have been diagnosed with endometriosis there are options available to you.
Your consultant will be able to discuss all the possible treatments and be able to advise on the outcomes you can expect from each option. Different factors will all play a part in the best treatment option and will include your age, the severity of your symptoms and if you are hoping to become pregnant or not.
Please click here for more information on Endometriosis Treatment options