Endometriosis, a common disorder among women of reproductive age, is often problematic to diagnose. In this article, we will discuss the diagnosis of endometriosis, its symptoms as well as the diagnostic methods.
How is the diagnosis of endometriosis done?
The doctor or the gynecologist may suspect endometriosis on the basis of your symptoms, physical exam, and other diagnostic tests. Researchers claim that there are non-specific signs and symptoms of endometriosis. Unfortunately, there is no acceptable and accurate noninvasive diagnostic test to diagnose endometriosis yet. There is no diagnostic accuracy with various serum markers. The most widely accepted and preferred method to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis is a surgical visual inspection of pelvic organs with histologic confirmation.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
There are various symptoms of endometriosis. However, not every woman with this condition will experience symptoms. Sometimes, there is no diagnosis unless doctors find it during another procedure or investigation of infertility.
Nevertheless, the most common symptom is pain, which can be in the abdomen, pelvic area and lower back. The nature of the pain can be intense or mild. Other symptoms include:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Painful periods and non-cyclic pain,
- Impaired fertility or outright infertility,
- Painful intercourse (dyspareunia),
- Bladder dysfunction (dysuria)
- Bowel dysfunction (dyschezia)
- Heavy bleeding during periods or spotting (light bleeding) between periods.
However, there is no connection between the symptoms of endometriosis and the severity of the condition. Some may experience no symptoms even after being at a later stage of the disease.
What are the other diagnostic methods used to diagnose endometriosis?
There is no lab test, procedure or imaging that can diagnose endometriosis without surgery. However, pelvic exams, imaging studies, along with medical history can be of significant help. The most common diagnostic exams include:
- Pelvic exam: The doctor will manually feel (palpate) areas in your pelvis for abnormalities or signs of cysts or scar tissue. However, it won’t be sufficient to make a diagnosis.
- Ultrasound: This procedure uses high-frequency sound waves to view your reproductive organs. In a transvaginal ultrasound procedure, an ultrasound scanning wand, called a transducer, is put into your vagina and moved across your belly to see the uterus, pelvic area and reproductive organs.
- MRI: In this procedure, with the help of a noninvasive scan, doctors use magnetic waves to look at organs and tissues inside the body.
- Biopsy: In this procedure, a few cells or tissue is scraped off or taken out and sent to a pathologist to examine the tissues under a microscope. This procedure makes a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis.
- Laparoscopy: Here, your doctor will make a small cut in the abdomen and insert a thin tube with a light and a camera to look at the tissues in and around the uterus and check for signs of endometrial tissue growth.
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