In order to diagnose endometriosis and distinguish it from other conditions that cause pelvic pain, you'll initially be asked to describe your symptoms. You'll be asked to indicate the exact location(s) of your pain, when it occurs and how painful it is on a scale of 1-10.
Some of the tests that are used to check for endometriosis include:
A pelvic examination. During a pelvic exam, the doctor will manually feel/palpate your pelvic area for any abnormalities. These can include scars behind the uterus and cysts on the reproductive organs. If the areas of endometriosis are very small, they may not be detectable unless they have caused cysts to form.
Ultrasound. For an ultrasound of the pelvis through the abdomen, a small scanner (or transducer) is swept across the abdomen. A vaginal ultrasound entails a wand-shaped scanner inserted into the vagina. Both tests utilize sound waves which provide a video image of the interior of the body, including the reproductive organs. Ultrasound images may not definitively indicate to a doctor whether or not the patient has endometriosis, however it can be a useful tool to help identify any cysts that could be associated with a diagnosis of endometriosis.
Laparoscopy. This is a more definitive way for a doctor to know with certainty that a woman has endometriosis. Looking inside of the abdomen directly via this direct visualization will allow the doctor to see any signs and symptoms of endometrial implants. This is most commonly accomplished through the use of a minor surgical process called laparoscopy.
With a laparoscopy procedure, you'll receive a general anesthetic. Then the surgeon will distend the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas, making the reproductive organs easier to see. A small incision is then made near the navel and the laparoscope viewing instrument is inserted. When the laparoscope is moved around, the surgeon can view the pelvic area and the abdominal organs and look for signs of endometrial tissue that might be growing outside of the uterus.
If endometriosis is detected, the laparoscopy procedure can provide information about the location, size and extent of the endometrial tissue and implants. This information will then inform your treatment options going forward.