How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Diagnosing endometriosis can be really difficult. Since March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, let’s talk about why that is.

Part of the problem is the lack of gynaecologists trained well in endometriosis.

In Canada, family doctors are the gatekeepers to specialists. If you want to see a gynaecologist about your pain, your GP has to make the referral. And, sometimes, GPs aren’t well-versed in period pain and/or endometriosis.

Aaand, unfortunately, period pain and period problems have been historically normalized, so sometimes these issues go undertreated (and even dismissed!).

Diagnosing Endometriosis

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery. It can diagnose endometriosis and lesions can be excised at the same time.

Laparascopy has been the gold standard for diagnosing endometriosis.

Ultrasound and MRI technology and training are improving so that endometriosis lesions can be better picked up by these methods.

There’s a lot of research now going into biomarkers to detect endometriosis through a blood test. There is actually a marker called cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) — which can be seen in ovarian cancer — that can be elevated in endometriosis. CA-125 isn’t a diagnostic marker. If it’s elevated, it can help us rule it in and help you get to the next step (and an ultrasound to rule out ovarian cancer is the next step, followed by endometriosis testing if the ultrasound doesn’t show anything). If it’s negative, it doesn’t mean much from a diagnostic standpoint.

Treatment options

These will be discussed in my next blog post!