This week marks the beginning of Endometriosis Awareness week. Every year fertility and reproductive specialists use this week to educate their patients and their patient’s families about this painful, and in some cases, debilitating condition. As the first fertility center established in Viera, we believe it is extremely important to bring awareness to this issue, and remind our patients that it is possible to manage the symptoms of endometriosis and even to become pregnant.
What Is Endometriosis?
The uterus is lined with a tissue called endometrium. This tissue thickens every month during the menstrual cycle and prepares the reproductive tissues for fertilization and implantation. For women who suffer from endometriosis, a similar tissue to endometrium is located on the outside of the uterus. It also thickens and sheds in accordance with the monthly cycle, regardless of where it is at. This can mean extremely painful periods, pain during intercourse, pain while eliminating bowels and bladder, nausea, constipation, and infertility. This displaced tissue can also cause ovarian cysts and scar tissue that can fuse the reproductive organs together.
What Causes Endometriosis?
Fertility doctors can not say for sure what causes endometriosis; however, they do have some theories. Some women may be born with it. Hormones such as estrogen can affect the growth and development of cells when an embryo is forming in the uterus. In some cases this can cause a transformation of embryonic cells to develop into endometrial cells at puberty. Scars from abdominal or C-section surgeries can also cause endometrial tissue to form outside of the uterus. Also, it is believed that retrograde menstruation may have a hand in causing women to develop endometriosis. There are certain risk factors a woman can watch out for to see if she may develop endometriosis, they include: Low BMI, family history of the condition, high estrogen levels, short menstrual cycles, not giving birth, medical conditions that inhibit blood from leaving the body during menstruation, drinking a large amount of alcohol, and starting your period or menopause earlier or later than most women.
Treatment of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a difficult condition to cure, however it can be treated with a variety of procedures and medications. Hormone therapies and medications have proven to be especially effective in managing the pain associated with endometriosis. Hormonal contraceptives such as the pill control the menstrual cycle and therefore can lessen and control the pain. Similarly the use of gonadotropins can stop the menstrual cycle all together which will eliminate pain. The final hormonal therapy employs the use of injectable progesterone to stop the endometrial pain by halting the growth of the endometrial cells. The only issue with these methods is that a woman will not be able to become pregnant during these treatments. Endometriosis makes it difficult to conceive in the first place which is why many are so burdened by this disease. For women who suffer this condition and are wishing to become mothers, often the treatment is surgical. With a laparoscopy the endometrial tissue is physically removed and often performed in perfect harmony with other fertility treatments to facilitate an assisted conception. Another, more definitive treatment for endometriosis is complete removal of reproductive organs, more commonly known as a hysterectomy.
Once a woman has surgery to treat her endometriosis she may still need the assistance of a fertility doctor to to achieve a successful pregnancy. Depending on your specific condition, Dr. Chamoun will be able to manage your expectations and may be able to help you achieve your dream of becoming pregnant.
Endometriosis affects one in ten women during their reproductive years. It is important to understand that this is a common condition that can be talked about with your Viera fertility doctor. If you are experiencing any symptoms of endometriosis, don’t hesitate to bring them up immediately. There are many treatments available to not only minimize your pain, but to also increase your chances of becoming pregnant and starting a family. If you have any more questions about endometriosis, please schedule an appointment at the Viera Fertility Center today.