Endometriosis is a major health concern in the adolescent population and significantly impacts daily physical and psychosocial functioning. Endometriosis can have differing presentations in this population, and the diagnosis often involves long delays and multiple visits to specialists.
The aim of this review is to discuss adolescent endometriosis, factors specific to this population, accurate diagnosis, and evidence-based surgical and medical management.
Computerized searches on the topic of endometriosis and adolescent endometriosis were completed. References from identified sources were then searched manually to allow for a thorough review. Data from relevant sources were synthesized to create the review.
The literature supports endometriosis as a frequent cause of secondary dysmenorrhea. The characteristics of adolescents with endometriosis are shown to differ from those of adults. Initial medical therapy includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and combined hormonal contraceptives, but laparoscopy does have a role in the adolescent population, particularly those who have inadequate response to these treatments. Adolescent endometriosis may have a different appearance and be of all stages. Medical therapies are similar to that of the adult population; however, the benefits of medical and surgical management must be tailored to the adolescent patient.
Conclusions and Relevance
Adolescent endometriosis is likely a more prevalent cause of dysmenorrhea than currently appreciated. A high index of suspicion combined with recognition of risk factors and history-based markers of endometriosis may help identify adolescent endometriosis earlier and avoid delays in diagnosis. Expert opinion supports earlier laparoscopic evaluation in patients with symptoms unresponsive to oral medications, those who have failed initial medical therapy, or those who have evidence of deeply invasive disease, such as an endometrioma. Surgeons should be familiar with the unique appearance of lesions in the adolescent and understand the evidence as it relates to surgical therapy. Postoperative medical management is generally advocated by many, although the efficacy remains unclear at present.
Obstetricians and gynecologists, family physicians
After completing this activity, the learner should be better able to describe the nature of adolescent endometriosis as a disease entity, along with risk factors and clinical markers; identify the role of laparoscopic evaluation in diagnosis and management; and explain the evidence-based medication options available to this patient population.