Early diagnosis for endometriosis is extremely important as it can help to provide treatment options sooner, it can stop/slow disease progression, it can provide answers, it can validate your symptoms, and it can reduce isolation that tends to accompany chronic illness. It can also make you feel better physically.

On average, in Canada it takes at least five years for individuals to be diagnosed with endometriosis. For women of colour and gender-diverse individuals, diagnosis can take even longer.

To begin the diagnostic process, your health care provider will do a thorough medical evaluation that includes information about symptoms and gynaecologic health history. Information that you may be asked about is as follows:

  • Your pain and symptoms
  • Your reproductive health (age of first period, details about your menstrual cycle, and pregnancy history)
  • Medications you are taking
  • Your family history of endometriosis
  • Your medical history
  • Your general health

A physical examination is necessary to make a diagnosis. Your health care provider will perform a pelvic examination and possibly a rectal–vaginal examination. A physical exam allows them to feel for signs of endometriosis or other disorders that may be contributing to your symptoms. They may try to perform this exam when you are menstruating to help improve the chance of detecting endometriosis.

Your health care provider may also suggest or perform an ultrasound, which may show signs of endometriosis or other pelvic disorders contributing to your symptoms (e.g., ovarian cysts or uterine fibroids). If endometriosis is suspected, you may receive:

  • A clinical diagnosis, which means that endometriosis is suspected, but there is no advanced imaging or surgical confirmation. A clinical diagnosis may allow for earlier treatment to manage pain or infertility.
  • A recommendation for advanced ultrasound or MRI to receive an imaging diagnosis, which may allow for more targeted treatment of endometriosis or surgical planning.
  • A recommendation for surgery to attain a surgical diagnosis. In this case, a surgical procedure performed by gynaecologist will be performed. Surgical diagnosis may also help with the management of co-occurring conditions, such as uterine fibroids.

It is important to understand that all surgeries have some amount of risk, so surgery is not recommended for all people with suspected endometriosis. Your health care provider will likely recommend other, less invasive treatment options first.

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