Your Guide to Ovarian Endometrioma: Treatment, Symptoms, Doctors, Etc.
Endometrioma (deep ovarian endometriosis) can be difficult to treat due to controversies and challenges surrounding the best approaches, treatment, and diagnosis. Many of these hurdles result from misunderstandings about the condition and underlying disease process – deep ovarian endometriosis.
If you suffer from these ovarian endometriosis lesions, our sincere thoughts go out to you. Often known as “chocolate cysts,” some consider endometriomas as the most severe threat to a woman’s reproductive system (aside from cancerous tumors found in the reproductive tract). Furthermore, these lesions don’t always respond well to medical treatment and can potentially ruin the health of ovarian tissue. This article will help you understand endometrioma, symptoms, and deep ovarian endometriosis treatment.
What is Endometriomas (Deep Ovarian Endometriosis)?
Endometriomas happen when endometrial-like tissue grows inside the ovary or sometimes outside. Endometrioma is very common and affects between 17-44% of endo patients. Endometriomas are typically an advanced form of endometriosis, meaning stage three or four.
Surgery is often necessary to remove the endometriomas. However, eliminating endometrioma cysts and capsules is an advanced procedure and needs excellent skills. This surgery can potentially lead to partial or complete loss of ovarian function, especially if done by less experienced surgeons. These cystic masses can cause extreme challenges for women undergoing fertility treatments, i.e., assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
Endometriomas are dark-fluid-filled cavities, and they can present in a variety of shapes and sizes. An ultrasound can show suspected cases of endometrioma, but confirmation needs surgery and histology. Therefore, getting a diagnosis of endometrioma can be riddled with challenges.
Recurrence of The Lesions Following Surgery
On our social media accounts, we receive many questions about the topic of endometrioma recurrence. We took to Instagram to get the responses from endometriosis specialists about this recurrence. Here are some of their responses:
“It depends on several factors including the age of the patient, method of surgery, the experience of the surgeon, etc. In the literature, recurrence rates of over 30% have been reported, although I have personally not seen that high of recurrence risk.”
“We’ve had ovarian recurrence rates of less than 10 percent in our two years of follow-ups of about 85 patients with ovarian endometriomas.”
“What’s important is to completely free the ovary and excise the peritoneum or uterosacral ligament it was adherent to, apart from excising the cyst. This will truly help reduce recurrence rates compared to just doing a cyst excision and leaving peritoneal disease behind.”
“I share the same opinion, in my center, our recurrence rate is less than 8% a good technique and excision of all zone of endometrioma even peritoneal improve outcomes, also as previously said it depends on many factors like endometrioma size, multiple endometriomas, and post-op treatment.”
“We have a very low recurrence rate. This is because often, during surgery, only the visible endometrioma cysts are removed. Anything under 2 cm is out of our visual field.”
Clinical Impact of Endometriomas (in Women of Reproductive Age)
Endometriomas does not cause infertility in all women it affects. However, studies show that between 25% to 50% of women with infertility have endometriosis, and 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis have infertility. However, that does not mean that endometrioma will necessarily cause infertility in women of reproductive age, especially when diagnosed and treated early with the best-practice treatments that have evolved over the years.
One of the leading fertility challenges is that ovarian lesions affect the number of eggs in ovarian tissue. Endometrioma can also impair the maturation of the egg and cause the woman to have a lower antral follicle count (AFC) and Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH). Also, women with endometriomas often have high follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels.
- Intense pelvic pain
- Possible infertility
- Decrease ovarian function
- It can place women of child-bearing age at a higher risk of cancer
Treatment and Surgery Options
Treatment for endometriomas will vary from person to person. The number of lesions and the staging of the disease progress are just a couple of the factors that will influence the right treatment plan for you.
Treatment for Females of Reproductive Ages
Many OB-GYNS and other healthcare providers still practice old treatments for endometriosis that don’t effectively manage the disorder. It’s a complicated condition. Thus, there are many myths and misconceptions about endometriosis.
Women of reproductive ages who wish to maintain fertility should have a fertility specialist in their multidisciplinary endometriosis team. Women with endometriomas may respond to some of the following treatments:
Non-surgical treatments: These treatment options are temporary choices to manage pain and complications in the short term.
- Medication therapy
Surgical treatment: this may include:
- Laser ablation
- Capsule excision (the procedure of choice for most top experts)
Final Thoughts and Question for Readers
Have you had to deal with endometrioma? If so, please share how it has impacted your endo journey.