What is Endometriosis?
According to an annual report from Google, “What is Endometriosis” was the third most searched health question of 2018, currently returning over 31 million results. “What is the keto diet?” and “What is ALS disease?” took first and second place, respectively, on Google’s list.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects approximately 5-10% of reproductive-aged women and up to one-third of women with infertility. Endometriosis is caused by cells from the lining of the uterus growing outside of the uterus in other locations, such as the abdomen, pelvis, and more commonly, on the ovaries. Women with this condition may suffer from abnormal, painful and heavy periods, pain during intercourse and/or bowel movements, severe cramps, and pelvic pain.
Endometriosis impacts all aspects of a woman’s life, including sexual relations, social activities, emotional well being, and work productivity. The current lack of knowledge and awareness about the causes of endometriosis contributes to the significant delays, sometimes seven to twelve years, from first experiencing symptoms to diagnosis.
Endometriosis has long been associated with infertility, but the cause still remains unclear. Some women with endometriosis will conceive spontaneously, while others experience significant difficulty and require fertility treatment. Theories of infertility and endometriosis include long-term damage to the fallopian tubes and uterus due to inflammation, distorted pelvic anatomy, endocrine, and ovulatory abnormalities, altered hormonal environment, altered egg quality, and potential difficult egg implantation.
There is currently no cure for endometriosis, but treatments are available to help manage the condition. In the case of infertility, there are multiple fertility treatment options that offer excellent success rates. Options such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) bypass the inflammation of the fallopian tubes or pelvis and result in high pregnancy rates. Multidisciplinary approaches addressing all patient needs and greater disease awareness are needed to improve care, diagnosis, and development of treatments for those suffering from endometriosis. Physical therapy, acupuncture, and yoga are examples of non-pharmacological strategies that may help ease the pain of endometriosis. Mental health professionals may help treat depression and grieving while providing coping and relaxation strategies.
Early diagnosis and treatment reduce the long-term impact of endometriosis and the frequency of invasive treatments. Raising awareness is the first step to reducing the delay in diagnosis across all age groups. Education about menstrual health, what is normal and what is not is vital in younger age groups to break the current cycle of delay in diagnosis and on the effects of endometriosis on the next generation.
Our goal at Advanced Reproductive Center is to raise awareness about endometriosis, assist our patients in obtaining an early diagnosis, multidisciplinary treatment options and overall success with the fertility journey. Give us a call today at 312.485.4847 to learn more about our fertility services.