What Are Endometriomas?

Effective medical treatment for women with endometriomas varies depending on the underlying cause.
Ovarian endometrioma may result in intense pain and heavy bleeding during menstruation.
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  • Written By: C. Martin
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 August 2014
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In medicine, endometriomas are a type of ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts are sacs of fluid within the ovary of a woman. Endometriomas occur when a piece of membrane from the inside of a woman's uterus is taken up into an ovary and grows there to form an ovarian cyst. These cysts are also called endometrial cysts, or sometimes chocolate cysts, due to the brown appearance that occurs when these cysts have grown inside the ovary for a long period. The brown color is due to the presence of old, clotted blood that is suspended in the fluid inside the cyst.

Ovarian endometriomas typically occur in women who suffer from a condition called endometriosis. In endometriosis, cells from the lining of the womb move around and form deposits in areas of tissue where they do not normally belong. This can include the fallopian tubes, the bladder, and the intestines. Endometrial deposits from endometriosis are, however, most common in the ovaries, and here they often lead to the formation of endometriomas.

Symptoms of this condition may include intense ovarian pain, infertility, and heavy menstrual periods, often with the presence of large blood clots. Estimates of the frequency of the disease range from five percent to ten percent, and may be present in up to 50% of women who have known fertility problems. Endometriomas most commonly occur in women of reproductive age, although it is known to occur, more rarely, in post-menopausal women.

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Endometriomas treatment may be either in the form of surgery, or using drugs. Surgery is often required for the removal of an endometrioma, if fertility is to be preserved. This usually consists of laparoscopic surgery, where a telescopic device is inserted into the patient's abdominal region through a small incision below the belly button. In such surgery, a doctor normally aims to remove the cyst, or cysts, from the ovary. This can provide fast relief from pain, and potentially the return of normal fertility. Laser surgery is also sometimes used to cauterize ovarian cysts, but this method tends to remove only the surface of the cyst, and incomplete healing may result.

Medical treatment of endometriomas, using drugs, is usually only considered a satisfactory approach if the patient is not attempting to conceive. The drugs used for treatment are usually hormones that prevent the patient from ovulating. This in turn tends to reduce the proliferation of uterine cells, making the recurrence of endometriomas much less likely.

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Discuss this Article

anon233640
Post 5

I am very young, but think I have endometriosis cysts. I know that I have ovarian cysts, just not what kind. On my period, I get very very sharp pains and it usually hurts to move at all for about two days. It also hurts sometimes during sex. I am on birth control but I still get the pains. Any advice?

ceilingcat
Post 4

The symptoms of endometrioma and endometriosis are almost the same but interestingly, the two conditions are diagnosed differently.

My doctor suspected that I had endometriosis but she told me the only way to really diagnose it would be for me to have surgery so she could go in and take a look. However, an endometrioma can be diagnosed using imaging. This is probably because an endometrioma is a cyst whereas the symptoms of endometriosis occur at the cellular level.

I had an ultrasound done and luckily I'm endometrioma free! The ultrasound was a piece of cake but I'm really scared of surgery so I decided to hold off on that for awhile. I just started on some medication so hopefully that will help and I won't need a surgery.

Azuza
Post 3

@Malachis- I have endometriosis and I also take birth control to treat the condition. I was a little reluctant to take birth control as well but it has really been a god send.

I used to miss two days of work every single month when I had my period because of the intense pain. Since I've been taking birth control I don't have those symptoms anymore and I can lead a normal life. It's great!

Although I have endometriosis I've never had an endometrioma. I'm relieved to know that birth control pills are used in the treatment of endometrioma. Hopefully since I'm on the pill I'll never develop one.

Malachis
Post 2

I recently had surgery to remove endometrioma cysts and I'm just starting oral contraceptives to keep them from coming back. It's funny -- I'm 36 years old and just started birth control, haha.

I never really wanted to take birth control because of the side effects, but I don't want the cysts to come back. They're so painful! Did you know there's a 40 percent chance of endometriosis recurring after surgery without medication? That's a risk I'm not willing to take.

Chai18
Post 1

My friend was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 22. She has to visit her doctor every few weeks for endometrioma treatment and she's on medication that keeps her from ovulating. I guess she's technically in a medically-induced menopause, so she gets hot flashes and isn't menstruating. She gets tired really easily, too. I think that's a common side effect of the treatment.

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