Likely a word you’ve heard before. And chances are you or someone you know suffers from this medical condition. After all, it is widespread, affecting one in ten women.
Maybe you’ve heard one of your favorite celebrities talk about it? Julianne Hough, Jilian Michaels, Padma Lakshmi, and Halsey are just a few who have opened up about their diagnosis.
If it’s so common, why are so many people still in the dark about what it is and how it affects fertility? Read on for the ultimate guide on endometriosis.
What is Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a common condition that affects women during their reproductive year. It is a disease where the uterus’ lining, known as the endometrium, starts growing outside the womb.
This lining can be found anywhere throughout the pelvis area, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, bowels, and appendix. This results in scar tissue and adhesions that may interfere with the natural function of the organs.
What are the Symptoms?
Every woman experiences different symptoms with it comes to endometriosis. Still, the most common are menstrual cramping, heavy periods, and potential infertility.
As with most diseases, endometriosis can vary on severity. Some women may not even know they have it and will have to impact on her fertility. In comparison, other women will experience a significant period or intercourse pain.
Because women can experience a wide range of symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed. Endometriosis is often mistaken for other conditions such as ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
It is also important to note that significant pain does not go hand in hand with how severe it is. Some women will not experience any abnormal pain, only to discover that their reproductive organs are covered in scar tissue.
How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, surgery is the only reliable way to diagnose endometriosis. Ultrasound scans and MRIs can help provide some information regarding the severity, but imaging isn’t always accurate. Only about 50% of cases can be diagnosed using scans.
How is Endometriosis Treated?
Endometriosis affects every woman differently; therefore, there are different treatments. Usually, the first treatment is over the counter pain medications. These may help with the painful cramps. Next, you can try hormone treatments such as birth control that may help with heavy periods.
If the symptoms get too bad, the next thing would be to try a laparoscopy. This is when a surgeon makes a small incision and can find and remove mild to moderate endometriosis.
How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?
Endometriosis affects fertility by destroying the tissue and anatomy of the female reproductive system.
The ovaries and the fallopian tubes are very delicate. The fimbrial ends of the fallopian tubes are what picks the egg up during ovulation. If they are matted together by scar tissues, they lose their function. Fallopian tubes can also be blocked by scar tissue, not allowing the sperm and egg to meet.
Endometriosis also causes inflammation in the uterus. This is what we call a “hostile” environment. When the embryo doesn’t implant in the uterus lining, it is impossible to become pregnant.
Don't Give Up
We know this sounds harsh. But, if you have endometriosis and want to have a baby, don’t give up.
If you are under the age of 35, most experts recommend trying to conceive for six months. If you don’t get pregnant naturally, seek extra help from your OB/GYN or make an appointment with a fertility specialist.
If having a baby naturally isn’t an option, don’t hesitate to look into IVF and surrogacy. Women who have endometriosis often have healthy eggs. They just need some help getting the egg fertilized and implanted.
In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is when your eggs are retrieved, and an embryo is created. The embryos would then either be implanted into the intended mother or implanted into a surrogate carrier who could carry the baby for the couple.
If a woman’s eggs have been compromised, then there is always the option of using an egg donor.
No matter how terrible your disease may be, there is always a way for you to have a family. Never give up on that.
We Can Help
We understand the pain and frustration of not being able to have the family you want. That’s why we’re here. We have case managers who can walk you through every possible scenario. There are ways for you to have a family. Trust us. We can help you find them.