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Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 10 women. It often causes severe pain and can affect fertility.

On average, it takes 7-10 years for patients with endometriosis symptoms to be diagnosed, and surgery is often required to get an accurate diagnosis.

While pelvic pain is a very common endometriosis symptom, it can usually be managed by your OB-GYN. If your symptoms are not well-controlled, or you feel like you are being dismissed by your physicians, you should seek an endometriosis specialist. You should also consult a specialist if you are considering surgery to evaluate or to remove the disease. Finally, talk with a specialist if you’re experiencing infertility.

Getting a surgical consultation can give you confidence in your diagnosis and treatment plan. Call 913-588-1227 for a second opinion.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when tissue from the uterus grows where it does not belong, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines or lining of the pelvic cavity. It commonly causes bleeding, inflammation, scarring and pelvic pain.

Endometriosis symptoms and risks

Endometriosis can cause a wide variety of symptoms, depending on where tissue has grown outside of the uterus. Common symptoms are pain with periods, pain with sex, infertility, bowel and bladder problems, and chronic abdominal and pelvic pain.

You may be at higher risk for endometriosis if you:

  • Have never given birth
  • Have an immediate family member with endometriosis
  • Started getting periods before age 11
  • Have heavier periods or a shorter interval between periods
  • Have been diagnosed with an abnormal uterus

If endometriosis goes untreated, it can lead to cancer or infertility.

Frequently asked questions

  • Unfortunately, pelvic pain can be associated with several gynecologic issues, so pelvic pain on its own is probably not a good reason to undergo surgery to diagnose endometriosis. If you are experiencing pelvic pain in addition to other symptoms, like infertility, a consultation is recommended.

  • Yes. While symptoms of endometriosis are most common, or most severe, during a menstrual period, they are not exclusively tied to it. You may experience pain during bowel movements, urination and intercourse, for example, at any time.

Endometriosis diagnosis and screening

Endometriosis typically can’t be diagnosed with imaging studies such as a CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, although these may be used to look for signs of the disease.

To diagnose, a gynecologist will first review your history and symptoms, perform a pelvic exam and review any imaging studies. If endometriosis is suspected, a surgical procedure called laparoscopy may be recommended. During surgery, a small amount of tissue is removed. This is then biopsied to confirm the presence of endometriosis.

The University of Kansas Health System is a leader in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery for endometriosis.

Endometriosis treatment

Treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of the disease, your symptoms and your goals. It can be treated with medication, surgery or both.

The gold standard is minimally invasive surgical excision of the disease with long-term management of symptoms. This does not require complete removal of the uterus and ovaries, which is often what people are told. Excision surgery is a special type of care that is not available through your primary OB-GYN.

Follow-up treatments include physical therapy, nonopioid pain medications and behavioral health therapy.

Why choose us for endometriosis

The health system has the only comprehensive minimally invasive gynecologic surgery (MIGS) program in Kansas under the direction of a fellowship-trained, board-certified physician. We practice evidence-based medicine and are up to date on all the latest technology, like minimally invasive surgery procedures to treat endometriosis.

The disease can cause significant scarring and distortion of normal anatomy, and these surgeries can be more challenging than many cancer surgeries. There are very few centers and surgeons that are qualified to do this. We do them here." Austin Findley, MD

Minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon

Our team recognizes that surgery is a big step. That’s why we provide individualized management plans (including nonsurgical options) focused on patient education and shared decision-making.

Finally, we provide many different treatment options and multidisciplinary care for endometriosis.

Your endometriosis care team

High-quality surgical removal of endometriosis often involves collaboration with a colorectal surgeon or a urologist.

Physical therapists will work on musculoskeletal dysfunction.

Additionally, endometriosis can take a mental and emotional toll on you. Our psychiatrists can help address those issues.