1. What causes endometriosis?
a. The answer is not clear. It is likely that there is no one cause, but a number of factors that may include genetics (i.e. inherited from either mother or father), environmental effects (chemicals, toxins, or viruses), the type of endometrium that you have and the flow of blood and the endometrium during a period.
2. Can it be cured?
a. Talking about a ‘cure’ requires knowledge of what causes the disease and ensuring that these causes do not return.
b. This is not possible currently and the aim of treatment should be to maximise fertility and improve quality of life through reduced pain symptoms.
c. Eradication of all areas of the disease can only be confirmed by laparoscopy and is not essential.
d. It is best to talk about a symptom-free interval when considering outcomes for endometriosis treatments.
What is Endometriosis
3. How can I monitor progress?
a. Following treatment or a procedure, your doctor may advise a specific follow-up regime e.g. 6 monthly for 1-2 years and then annually or biannually.
b. This may be done by your GP when an examination of your pelvis can be done at the same time as your pap smear.
4. What if one treatment does not work?
a. If a treatment or procedure does not work or stops working then other treatments can be commenced.
b. You need to discuss with your doctor your symptoms and your plans for current or future pregnancy.
c. An individual plan will be made for your particular case.
5. If I have surgery once does this mean that I cannot have surgery again?
a. No. There is no ‘maximum’ number of surgeries, though repeat surgery may have a greater risk of complication due to scar tissue formation.
b. When considering further surgery your doctor will assess your responsiveness to your first surgery, alternatives to surgery and the risk of surgery if it is repeated.
6. Can I become pregnant if I have endometriosis?
a. Yes. If you have trouble becoming pregnant and have known or suspected endometriosis then your doctor will often suggest either conservative management (i.e. continue trying without intervention) or surgery.
b. Research suggests that removing endometriosis surgically improves the chances of becoming pregnant without any additional treatments (such as IVF).
c. No medication used for the treatment of endometriosis will help you become pregnant, and these medical treatments should not be used as they may prevent you from becoming pregnant.
d. Your doctor may suggest that you see a fertility specialist to discuss IVF or other treatments to become pregnant.
7. Does the amount of disease impact on the symptoms?
a. No. There is no connection between the amount of disease and the severity (or even presence) of symptoms.
b. This means that you can have a small amount of disease and very significant symptoms or a very large amount of disease and no symptoms.
8. Will a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) cure endometriosis?
a. No. Significant surgery such as hysterectomy may be considered in women who have no desire for children in the future and as a symptom control measure.
b. Having a hysterectomy does not guarantee reduction or eradication of pain and your doctor may try alternate surgery (such as removal of the endometriosis alone) before considering a hysterectomy.
Reference: Alana Healthcare for Women Pty Ltd
For more information and printable materials go to the Endometriosis Australia website at www.endometriosisaustralia.org