If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, you are not alone. Millions of women in the U.S. suffer from this painful condition.
For Endometriosis Awareness Month, Pacific Fertility Center is sharing some facts about the disease that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disease involving growth of tissue outside the endometrial (uterine) cavity. It commonly involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, and even the bladder.
In endometriosis, the displaced tissue continues to act normally. It thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. When endometriosis involves the ovaries, it's known as "endometriomas."
The cause of endometriosis is still unknown, though scientists suspect it may be due to biochemical or immunological factors, in addition to genetics.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Many women experience menstrual cramps, while those with endometriosis often describe the pain to be worse. The pain tends to increase with time.
Signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Pelvic pain and cramping, which may begin before and extend several days into your menstrual period. You may also experience lower back pain and abdominal pain.
- Excessive bleeding during or between periods.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination, typically during your period.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
Endometriosis is often mistaken with other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, such as pelvic inflammatory disease. It is also sometimes confused with irritable bowel syndrome.
Does endometriosis cause infertility?
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 50 percent of women with endometriosis will experience infertility due to:
- Scarring in the fallopian tubes
- Cysts or adhesion in the ovaries
- Inflammation of the pelvic structure
- Change in the hormonal environment of eggs
Diagnosis of Endometriosis
It's determined through an invasive procedure called laparoscopy, which allows for viewing of the outside uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the internal pelvic area. Discovery of cysts may lead to their removal during the same procedure.
During surgery, the doctor evaluates the amount, location, and depth of endometriosis. This "score" determines whether your endometriosis is minimal or severe (Stage 4). Stage 4 endometriosis causes considerable scarring, blocking of fallopian tubes, and damaged ovaries. This experience causes difficulty in getting pregnant, thus women benefit from fertility treatments.
Get the treatment that is right for you!
If you are over 30 and have severe endometriosis or if you have been trying to get pregnant for six months or more, we recommend having your fertility evaluated so you can pursue the treatment that is more likely to work for you.
The good news is that the majority of women with mild endometriosis will conceive within one year of unprotected intercourse, while many women with more serious endometriosis and infertility can get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments.
// For more information, visit pacificfertilitycenter.com.