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Endometriosis myths explained

Endometriosis is a disease that occurs when the tissue normally found in the uterus begins to grow on other abdominal organs, such as the fallopian tubes or the intestines. Women who have endometriosis may experience intense pain with their menstrual periods, chronic fatigue and infertility.

With decades of experience in women’s health, Geoffrey Schnider, MD, obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, has identified five key misconceptions about endometriosis and provided critical information about each of them.

Myth #1: I received a diagnosis of endometriosis at my clinic.

While endometriosis may be suspected based on a woman's symptoms, the diagnosis must be made laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgery is a type of minimally invasive surgery that allows surgeons to look for signs of endometriosis using high-tech cameras that can magnify an area of concern so that the endometriosis tissue can be clearly seen. The laparoscopic procedure is followed by a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis.

Myth #2: I have a diagnosis of endometriosis, so I can’t get pregnant.

Infertility is the No. 1 concern for women with endometriosis. Endometriosis can affect fertility by creating inflammation and scar tissue around reproductive organs. With appropriate surgical treatment, however, there is hope. Endometriosis is a highly treatable disease. Even in stage 4 severe disease, with the proper correction, there can still be a high fertility rate.

Myth #3: I’m too young for a diagnosis of endometriosis.

While endometriosis is most commonly diagnosed in women who are in their 20s or 30s, the condition is fairly common and sometimes occurs even in very young patients. Endometriosis can be considered in any menstruating female, and an early diagnosis can save her from years of chronic pain.

Myth #4: My gynecologist can handle it.

While a gynecologist will be the primary person managing your endometriosis treatment, he or she should be prepared to enlist the help of other specialists, including colorectal surgeons, urologists and radiologists to make sure that each organ affected by endometriosis gets the specialized attention that it needs. Mental health services can also be beneficial to help patients bear the emotional burdens that may be associated with chronic pain.

Myth #5: I have had endometriosis surgery already.

Some patients have undergone a surgery that treated only part of their endometriosis. Many patients are treated with cautery or with a laser that removes only what is visible — just the superficial parts of the tissue. In these cases, the patient still has the disease, which is why complete excision is critical.

Dr. Schnider and the team at the Pavilion for Women have years of experience in treating endometriosis and are supported by teams of experts in pathology, surgery and psychology. To discuss your concerns about endometriosis with one of the experts at the Pavilion for Women, call 832-826-3000.