SSM Health Medical Minute – Treatment options for endometriosis

Actress Lena Dunham recently revealed she underwent a hysterectomy in hopes of relieving her endometriosis pain. But an SSM Health surgeon in St. Louis says the measure chosen by Dunham is not nearly as common as other remedies.

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus.

"That condition can lead to or be associated with pain and or infertility in the general population. It’s thought to be 1 in 10 women," said Dr. Patrick Yeung, director of SLUCare Center for Endometriosis at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital.

Treatment includes pain management, hormone therapy, or ablation, a procedure that surgically destroys the lining of the uterus.

Dr. Yeung says a hysterectomy would be used only in extreme cases. He says the most effective way is excision surgery to remove the cells or implants on the outside of the uterus.

"Our approach is to cut out those implants,” he said. “We cut around it, we curt under it, under the root so to speak, to get the whole thing out down to normal healthy tissue. We believe that is a more complete way to treat it. We've shown great results in terms of pain and fertility improvement with this approach and that might be a way to help avoid a hysterectomy."

Surgery to treat endometriosis is performed at the SLUCare Center for Endometriosis through a minimally invasive technique called laparoscopy, which leads to less postoperative pain, faster recovery, and better cosmetic results.

The goal of surgery is the complete removal of all visible endometriosis. This approach has been shown to have the potential to eradicate disease and prevent progression when performed by an experienced surgeon. To learn more, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.