While 11% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States have endometriosis, not all develop complications due to the condition. For those who do, these complications can be life-altering, such as infertility or moderate-to-severe pain.
If your endometriosis is causing serious quality-of-life issues, one of the answers may lie in minimally invasive surgery. Here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Fernando Otero is a leading expert in using minimally invasive surgical techniques for gynecologic problems, including treating endometriosis.
Here’s a look at when surgery may be best for your endometriosis and what we accomplish with this approach.
Why surgery for endometriosis?
With endometriosis, endometrial cells grow as “implants” outside your uterus, but behave as if they were inside your uterus. These implants respond to hormone fluctuations, so they thicken with each menstrual cycle and then break down.
Since this is happening outside your uterus and the implants don’t shed out, it can lead to inflammation and scarring that affects neighboring organs and tissues.
There are generally two reasons why we would turn to surgery for endometriosis: to reestablish fertility and remedy pain.
Between 30% and 50% of women with endometriosis have trouble with fertility. This is often due to endometrial implants that damage the ovaries or block the fallopian tubes. Since one of the frontline treatments for endometriosis is hormone therapy, this isn’t a great solution if you want to have children.
On the other hand, through surgery, we remove the problematic implants to clear the way forward for conception and pregnancy.
The pain associated with endometriosis often stems from scar tissue that pulls painfully on tissues and organs. This pain is often felt during intercourse or during bowel movements, or your pelvic pain may flare during your menstrual cycles due to inflammation.
Through surgery, our goal is to remove the adhesions that are responsible for the discomfort.
Undergoing surgery for endometriosis
When we use the words, “minimally invasive,” we’re referring to a specialized camera (a laparoscope) and instruments that allow us to perform the surgery without needing to open up the site with a large incision. Instead, we use tiny incisions, through which we thread the equipment.
Using the camera to visualize the area, we then guide the instruments to remove the endometrial tissues that are causing your symptoms.
Rest assured, you’re under general anesthesia, so you won’t feel anything during the procedure. Better still, once you’re awake and we’re satisfied that everything went well, you can most likely go home on the same day.
You’ll need to take it easy for a few days after your surgery and slowly add activity as you feel up to it. Since we only make small incisions, your recovery time is much faster than it would be with open surgery.
As you heal, you should realize immediate relief of any pain caused by your endometriosis. For obvious reasons, it will take some time before we can verify that the procedure worked to improve your fertility.
If you want to learn more about treating your endometriosis surgically, please contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to schedule a consultation.