How to Test for Endometriosis: An Overview of Methods Doctors Use to Test and Diagnose Endometriosis

You’re in pain and you think you may have endometriosis.

You want to go see a doctor but you are not sure what tests they might perform to evaluate your symptoms. 

This guide will help you understand the symptoms of endometriosis, what tests the doctors may perform to evaluate you, and some available treatment options.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful condition in women that causes tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, to grow outside the uterus. 

Women with endometriosis have tissue that is supposed to line the womb during ovulation, grow instead in places like ovaries, fallopian tubes, or intestines.

What Causes Endometriosis?

The causes for endometriosis are unknown, although some possible explanations include:

  • An Immune system disorder which may cause your body to keep the endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the uterus.
  • Transformation of peritoneal cells (cells we should have to line our uterus) into endometrial-like cells. 
  • Transformation of embryonic cells from estrogen into endometrial-like cells.
  • Endometrial-like cells may be carried through blood vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Endometrial-like tissue attaches to the scar tissue from surgery such as C-section or hysterectomy.
  • Instead of exiting the body, retrograde menstruation causes endometrial-like cells to flow back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity.

Women with a family history of endometriosis have a greater chance of getting it, although you can still be affected by it even if it does not run in your family.

How to Detect Endometriosis: Symptoms That May Lead to an Endometriosis Diagnosis

If you think you may be suffering from endometriosis, it is important to understand the symptoms, which may include:

  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful periods and excessive bleeding
  • Pain with urination and bowel movements
  • Infertility

Endometriosis Symptom #1: Painful Intercourse

One of the symptoms of endometriosis is painful intercourse

It is important to know that not all women with endometriosis experience pain during sexual intercourse. 

For those that do, the pain can occur when the endometrial-like tissue gets stretched and moved. 

You can feel:

  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Sharp pain
  • Pain that is mild to severe

Endometriosis Symptom #2: Excessive Bleeding

Women with endometriosis can experience painful periods and excessive bleeding. 

The pain can be light to severe and can cause pain several days before and after your menstrual cycle. 

Endometriosis can also cause bleeding between periods or periods that last longer than seven days.

Endometriosis Symptom #3: Trouble Urinating and Passing Bowels

Endometriosis can cause pain while you urinate and pass bowels

This pain can be caused by the endometrial-like tissue growing outside of the bladder or bowel causing you to become inflamed.

Endometriosis Symptom #4: Infertility

It may be more difficult for you to conceive a child with endometriosis. Adhesions and scarring from endometriosis can make it more difficult for the sperm to meet the egg.

Endometriosis can cause infertility in up to 50% of women. 

Doctors: How do They Test for Endometriosis?

If you believe you have endometriosis your doctor will create a unique plan and talk to you about how to get tested for endometriosis. 

Every woman may not receive the same diagnostic tests but there are some common tests that may be used by your doctor. 

How do you get tested for endometriosis? 

Testing methods may include:

  • Pelvic Exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Laparoscopy

Endometriosis Test One: Pelvic Exam

A pelvic exam is a type of manual exam that a doctor will give without any electronic equipment. 

The doctor will feel for tenderness and abnormalities around your uterus and ovaries. 

According to WebMD, a simple pelvic exam may not be enough to diagnose you with endometriosis.

Endometriosis Test Two: Ultrasound

An ultrasound is an exam given using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of your reproductive organs. A transducer device can be inserted into your vagina or pressed against your belly. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, this will not tell them if you definitely have endometriosis.

Endometriosis Test Three: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of your reproductive organs. 

An MRI will often only be given in preparation for surgery.

Endometriosis Test Four: Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a surgical exam given by inserting a long, thin viewing tube through the abdomen. 

It is a minimally-invasive exam and most people return home the same day.

According to a scientific article by NCBI, Laparoscopy tends to be the “Gold Standard” when diagnosing endometriosis. 

This means that a laparoscopy is often the ideal method used to diagnose endometriosis.

Endometriosis Diagnosis

What are doctors looking for during testing in order to make a diagnosis?

During a pelvic exam, your doctor will check for tenderness and abnormalities around your uterus and ovaries. Your doctor may notice abnormal thickening or lumps.

While getting an ultrasound your doctor may look for a cyst associated with endometriosis.

An MRI will typically only be given if you are preparing for surgery. This will help your doctor determine the size and location of the endometrial-like tissue they will plan to remove.

Laparoscopy often tends to be the ideal testing method because this exam allows the doctor to get a biopsy or small part of the tissue. The doctor can also remove cysts and other scar tissue.

Doctors: How do they diagnose Endometriosis?

There are four states of endometriosis ranging from minimal to severe.

Endometriosis: Stage 1

Minimal endometriosis is identified by a small number of tissue implants outside of the uterus.

Endometriosis: Stage  2

Mild endometriosis is characterized by a small number of tissue implants less than 5cm in diameter without major adhesions.

Endometriosis: Stage 3

Moderate endometriosis is recognized by multiple deep implants and small cysts on the ovaries.

Endometriosis: Stage 4

Severe endometriosis is diagnosed when multiple deep implants, large cysts, and severe abrasions are present.

Post-Endometriosis Diagnosis: Treatment Options

Now that you know more about some of the testing methods for diagnosing  Endometriosis, what are your treatment options?

Is There a Cure for Endometriosis?

Doctors are unable to develop a cure for Endometriosis because it is a chronic illness.

While there is no cure for endometriosis there are ways you can manage and treat your symptoms including:

  • Medical options
  • Surgical options
  • Natural options

    Endometriosis Symptom Management: Medical Options

    Your doctor may recommend you take over the counter medication such as NSAIDs, ibuprofen, or naproxen sodium to help ease the pain. 

    If you are not trying to conceive a baby, your doctor may also give you some hormonal therapies including contraceptives, and other medications to lower your estrogen levels.

    Endometriosis Symptom Management: Surgical Options

    If you are trying to conceive a baby or have severe pain, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a surgical procedure to remove some of the excess tissue. 

    Most often, doctors will conduct laparoscopy, however, they may also conduct surgery through traditional abdominal methods. 

    If your endometriosis is severe, doctors may recommend that you get a hysterectomy and remove your ovaries.

    Endometriosis Symptom Management: Natural Options

    Many women today prefer to take a natural route for endo relief. One way you can reduce your symptoms is to try these natural options. 

    Some of the things that worked for me include:

    • Endometriosis Diet and exercise regularly
    • Reducing stress through meditation
    • Staying well hydrated
    • Using an all-natural and chemical-free personal moisturizer, like Chiavaye, to help fight vaginal dryness

    Keep in mind that because every woman is different, successful treatment options will vary. 

    You may need to do some experimenting to find what works best for you.

    At Chiavaye we do not claim to be doctors. Before you choose these treatment options, we highly recommend that you visit your doctor.

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