Affecting approximately 10% of women, endometriosis can cause pelvic pain, especially during menstrual periods and intercourse, as well as infertility. Although no cure currently exists for endometriosis, medications and surgery can help lessen its severity. At Cedars-Sinai, our physicians are working on a number of research studies and are developing an endometriosis research and treatment center. We hope to improve standard therapies and discover new ones, including a cure.
In endometriosis, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is found outside the uterus. Although the exact cause is unknown, retrograde menstruation (menstrual debris that goes backwards out of the fallopian tubes during periods) may play a part. Most women have some degree of retrograde menstruation; however, not all develop endometriosis. Altered immunity is also thought to play a role in developing endometriosis. Cedars-Sinai is actively evaluating these issues, as well as the roles of diet and environment in endometriosis.
Endometriosis-Related Pelvic Pain
A number of medications are available to treat endometriosis, and women should discuss their options with their doctors. Through our research, we have developed therapeutic protocols that can provide good results and minimize side effects. As a result, many women with endometriosis can avoid surgery. For women whose pain does not respond to medication, surgery may help. The surgery can usually be done with laparoscopy (a minimally invasive, day surgery), using a number of tools, including a laser.
The biggest problem with endometriosis is that some women have difficulty conceiving. For some, surgery can improve the chance of natural conception. For others, infertility therapies, such as ovulation induction or in vitro fertilization, may be more effective.