The path to diagnosis may not always be simple and every woman’s journey is different. Below are some steps for you and your gynecologist to consider
Talk about all of your symptoms with your gynecologist. Remember to include the impact of your symptoms on day-to-day activities. If you're not sure how to start the conversation,
If you're looking for a gynecologist, there are various
you can go to find the right one
After you talk about your symptoms with your gynecologist, he or she could give you a pelvic exam to feel for any endometriosis lesions, such as cysts or scars
Sometimes, ovarian cysts from endometriosis can be seen on an ultrasound—a type of imaging that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body
Your doctor may suggest a blood test to rule out other conditions
By trying different
your doctor might be able to assess whether or not you have endometriosis
Your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy to actually look inside of your pelvis to see lesions. Surgery can help confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis. During the laparoscopy, your gynecologist may remove a small piece of tissue to study. This is called a biopsy
Why can it take so long to be diagnosed with endometriosis?
Endometriosis can take a while to properly diagnose—averaging anywhere from up to 6 to 10 years, in fact. This happens for a few reasons, including:
- Symptoms being dismissed as “just bad periods.” This is especially true of younger women
- Some symptoms of endometriosis may be similar to symptoms of other diseases
- About 1 out of 3 women consults 3 to 4 physicians before receiving an endometriosis diagnosis*
Based on a self-reported 1998 Endometriosis Association survey of 4334 respondents reporting a surgical diagnosis of endometriosis.
References: 1. Giudice LC, Evers JLH, Healy DL, eds. Endometriosis: Science and Practice. Oxford, England: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012. 2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Frequently asked questions. FAQ013. Gynecologic problems. https://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq013.pdf?dmc=1.Updated October 2012. Accessed January 8, 2020. 3. US Department of Health and Human Services. Endometriosis. http://www.womenshealth.gov/a-ztopics/endometriosis. Updated April 1, 2019. Accessed January 9, 2020. 4. Fischer JR. APGO Educational Series on Women’s Health Issues. Diagnosis & management of endometriosis: pathophysiology to practice. Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics; 2012. 5. Giudice LC. Endometriosis. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(25):2389-2398. 6. Greene R, Stratton P, Cleary SD, Ballweg ML, Sinaii N. Diagnostic experience among 4,334 women reporting surgically diagnosed endometriosis. Fertil Steril. 2009;91(1):32-39.