A Guide to Your Office Visit: Part 2

Read Part 1 here

Part 2: For Those Who Want the Details

As Thomas Jefferson said, knowledge is power. Here are some more specific medical terms to give your power for your endometriosis journey.

Endometrium

A layer of cells inside the uterus. They grow and bleed to cause a period. This same type of cell, when located outside the uterus, causes endometriosis.

Hormone

A chemical the body makes in one area that affects cells in a different area. For example, the ovaries make the hormone estrogen, which causes the changes in the uterus that create your period.

Ovarian cyst

A very common, fluid-filled structure, like a water balloon on the ovary. A small cyst will normally form and then shrink during each menstrual cycle. Larger cysts can sometimes cause pain. A ruptured cyst is when a cyst breaks open, often causing sudden, severe pain.

Chocolate cyst, or endometrioma

Endometriosis causes these cysts on the ovary. They are filled with old blood that looks brown, like liquid chocolate.

Adenomyosis

The endometrium cells normally line the surface inside of the uterus. If they grow deeper into the muscle that forms the uterus, this is called adenomyosis. Like endometriosis, this can cause heavy, irregular, or painful bleeding. People with endometriosis often have adenomyosis too.1

Ultrasound

This test uses sound waves to create a picture of organs inside the body. It is often the first test to look for a cause of pain or abnormal periods. The test has two parts: first, a device pressed on the belly. Then a plastic wand inside the vagina, which gives a clearer picture of the uterus and ovaries.

Ultrasound will usually see larger areas of endometriosis, like chocolate cysts, and can find other changes that can cause pain and bleeding problems, like ovarian cysts, or fibroids or polyps of the uterus. The test is often done in the Imaging department (where X-rays are done). You may see pictures on the screen, but the technician doing the test may not tell you much. Your doctor should explain the results to you. Sometimes your doctor may do the test in the office, for immediate results.

MRI

Another test in the Imaging department, this one uses magnetic fields to create pictures of the body. It involves lying—very still!—in a large and noisy tube. It is not all painful. You might get some IV liquid called “contrast” that makes the images more clear. MRI can see different things than ultrasound.

CT scan or CAT scan

Another Imaging test to look at organs. Like MRI, you might get IV contrast.

Urinary tract

All the organs that handle urine: two kidneys, two ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder), the urinary bladder (the pouch where urine is stored, in the lower belly), and the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body).

Urologist and Nephrologist

A urologist is a doctor specializing in care of the urinary tract structures. A nephrologist focuses on how the kidneys are working. These body parts are sometimes affected by endometriosis.

Gastroenterologist

Also called GI. A doctor who specializes in care of the intestines, stomach, and liver. Endometriosis can grow on these body areas too.

Your doctor will talk about the test results, and about their recommendations and your choices for next steps. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to take some time to do research before you decide. Again, be sure you know when you need to check back in.

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