Endometriosis is when cells similar to the cells of the uterus lining develop elsewhere in the body. These growths often develop on the ovaries or Fallopian tubes. However, endometriosis of the cervix is rare.
Many people do not realize that they have cervical endometriosis because it usually causes very little or no symptoms.
Is Cervical Endometriosis Common?
An estimated 6 to 10 percent of women are affected by endometriosis, and it is particularly prevalent in those of reproductive age. A research done in 2011 that encompassed more than 13,500 women with endometriosis, only 33 had growths on their cervices.
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Because there are often no symptoms, a person may be oblivious that they have this rare condition until they receive a regular pelvic exam or a Pap smear result.
Symptoms of Cervical endometriosis
There are normally no symptoms to indicate if a woman has cervical endometriosis. But if symptoms do occur, they may include:
- pelvic pain
- unusual vaginal discharge
- bleeding between periods
- bleeding after intercourse
- pain during intercourse
- heavy, prolonged or painful periods
Causes of Cervical endometriosis
The cause of cervical endometriosis is yet to be established. However, procedures to remove tissue may increase the possibility of developing endometriosis. Some of these procedures include:
- laser treatments
Pregnancy and fertility
Cervical endometriosis does not directly affect the chance of a woman getting pregnant. But any scar tissue on the cervix can block semen from entering the uterus. Endometriosis is more likely to affect fertility of a woman if growths are also present in the ovaries.
A Pap smear may be conducted if a doctor discovers growths on the cervix. If the result is abnormal, they may then perform a colposcopy. This procedure involves using a binocular microscope to explore the presence of lesions on the vulva, cervix, and vagina.
If there are lesions, a doctor may perform a biopsy. This will allow them to examine a sample of tissue under a microscope and ensure a precise diagnosis.
It may be difficult for a doctor to remove the growths if previous procedures have damaged the cervix.
If no symptoms accompany endometriosis, a person may require no treatment. However, a doctor should still monitor the situation regularly.
Treatment is designed to eliminate growths. Two common procedures are:
- Superficial electrocauterization. A doctor will use electricity and heat to remove the endometrial growths.
- Large loop excision. This involves a tool with a wire loop that carries an electrical current. The doctor will remove the growths by passing the loop along the surface of the cervix, before closing any wounds.
Note that lesions may reappear after removal.
Cervical endometriosis may be wrongly diagnosed because of how rare it is. Growths on the cervix can also indicate cervical cancer, but a doctor can reach a correct diagnosis with a biopsy or careful examination.
Other possible misdiagnoses of cervical endometriosis include:
- bacterial infection
- inflammatory cysts
- smooth muscle growths on the cervix
- cervical polyps
- melanoma, or skin cancer
Some conditions are linked with cervical endometriosis, including:
- stiffening of the cervical tissue
- infection with human papillomavirus, HPV