What Is Rectovaginal Endometriosis?
Rectovaginal endometriosis (RVE) is a rare disease characterized by lesions of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or rectum. These lesions are usually found at birth but may appear later in life. RVE causes no symptoms and affects only one organ; however, it can cause severe pain during periods and infertility if left untreated. There is currently no cure for RVE.
The term “endometrial” refers to all cells lining the inside of your body. They include blood vessels, glands, organs, and other tissues. Most endometriomas do not affect any tissue outside the uterus or fallopian tube. However, some tumors can grow into these structures causing them to become affected with RVE. Other types of cancerous growths such as sarcomas and neurofibromatosis have been associated with RVE.
Endometrioma is a type of cell that develops from the lining of the womb. It’s name comes from the Greek word meaning “house.” A tumor is a mass or abnormal growth. Tumors can develop anywhere in your body, including bone, muscle, brain, skin, heart, lungs and kidneys. Some cancers are spread through contact with healthy tissue (metastasis).
Others are not contagious and only occur within certain parts of your body (localized).
Most endometriomas occur in your reproductive organs, but they can grow anywhere inside the body. They’re made up of leftover tissue that has not been expelled during your period. It’s common for them to mature into endometriosis and cause an infection. If left untreated it can lead to reproductive problems such as infertility and pelvic pain. Endometriomas develop differently in each woman.
In some women, the endometriomas are non-cancerous and do not require treatment to prevent them from becoming life-threatening. Other women need a minor or major operation to prevent the growth of an endometrioma causing infertility or pain. The right medication can also cause the endometriomas to thicken and decrease the size of other organs.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when the uterine lining (endometrium) grows outside the uterus. This can cause pain, fertility problems, and other complications. Over time, these growths can create scar tissue that can make your fallopian tubes shut or fuse together. This prevents eggs from traveling to your uterus for implantation and also causes infertility.
What Are the Symptoms of Endometriosis?
The main symptom of endometriosis is pain during your period. You may feel a dull aching in your lower abdomen that gets worse before your period and during your period. This pain may get so bad that you need to take pain medication, lie down, and curl up in a ball to relieve the pain. You may feel pain in your lower back on one or both sides. You may also feel pain when you have bowel movements or have sexual relations.
Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
Lower back pain
Pain during or after sexual relations
General feeling of discomfort like your “insides are coming out”
Difficulty urinating and painful urination (dysuria)
Fever and chills
Fatigue or lack of energy (lethargy)
Nausea and vomiting
How Is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
If you suffer from painful periods, your doctor will usually suggest you undergo an ultrasound to determine whether or not you have an endometrial cyst. If there are multiple cysts or the cysts are large, your doctor may perform a pelvic exam to determine whether or not you have endometriosis. You may also have a blood test to determine whether or not your body is producing high levels of estrogen, which can cause endometrial growth.
How Is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis isn’t life-threatening, but it can cause infertility if left untreated. If you’re not ready to have children, your doctor may prescribe birth control pills to stop the overproduction of estrogen. Hormonal implants that slowly release estrogen can also prevent cysts from growing larger and causing other complications. If these options aren’t available to you, your doctor may suggest a progestin injection that will thicken your uterine lining and stop ovulation, or a laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometrial growths.
If pregnancy is possible, your doctor may suggest in vitro fertilization (IVF) since the condition of your fallopian tubes can prevent an embryo from implanting into your uterus. You may also undergo a laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometrial growths and thicken the uterine wall with estrogen.
Can Endometriosis Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no sure way of preventing endometriosis. If you’ve had cysts in the past or have a family history of endometriosis, you may want to keep track of your periods and report any abnormal bleeding to your doctor so that it can be treated as soon as possible.
Sources & references used in this article:
Use of a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device in the treatment of rectovaginal endometriosis by L Fedele, S Bianchi, G Zanconato, A Portuese… – Fertility and sterility, 2001 – Elsevier
Laparoscopically assisted vaginal resection of rectovaginal endometriosis by M Possover, H Diebolder, K Plaul, A Schneider – 2000 – Elsevier
Transrectal ultrasonography in the assessment of rectovaginal endometriosis by L Fedele, S Bianchi, A Portuese, F Borruto… – Obstetrics & …, 1998 – academia.edu