More than 176 million women are affected by severe pain during their monthly period. This pain may be caused by a chronic disease called endometriosis. There is no known cause or cure for endometriosis. Endometriosis can affect bowel function, gynecological health, quality of life and even fertility.
- take time to read about and understand what endometriosis is
- talk to your doctor about how endometriosis affects fertility
- see your doctor for a proper diagnosis
- treat symptoms of endometriosis
- know the symptoms of endometriosis
- wait to seek help for your symptoms
- wait to see a doctor when trying to have a baby
- think you are alone
- assume you are too young or too old to have endometriosis
During monthly menstruation, the endometrial lining inside the uterus sheds from the body. In some case, however, the endometrial tissue normally found inside the uterus grows outside the uterus or in other places of the body. This is called endometriosis.
Normally, the endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. But with endometriosis, this tissue does not drain from the body as it would in normal menstruation. This can result in pain and inflammation.
Endometrial growths can occur on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity, between the vagina and rectum, and on the ovaries, bladder and fallopian tubes. Although it is rare, endometrial growths have also been found in lungs, thighs and arms.
Adhesions and scarring from endometriosis can change the position of the fallopian tubes and even block the fallopian tubes. Scarring or adhesions may also restrict movement of or change the position of the ovaries. Endometriosis may increase production of hormones that can affect fertility. Some 35 to 50 percent of women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis also struggle with infertility. Endometriosis is one of the three main causes of female infertility.
To help improve fertility, doctors may perform surgery to remove scar tissue or adhesions. A combination of fertility medication and in vitro fertilization may increase the chances of pregnancy without surgery.
The diagnosis of endometriosis can be made through a biopsy of tissue samples. Your doctor may also use laparoscopy, a common surgical procedure that uses a camera inserted into the abdominal cavity to see endometrial growths. Diagnoses can also be made through a biopsy of tissue samples.
Symptoms of endometriosis may be improved although not eradicated through hormonal treatments such as birth control pills. Symptoms often improve during pregnancy.
The symptoms of endometriosis include recurrent yeast infections, pain during sexual activity, and painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation. Symptoms can also include allergies, chemical sensitivities, and gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
Although endometriosis has no known cure, symptoms can be treated. If you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to endometriosis, see your doctor for a complete assessment.
If you are over the age of 35 and have been trying to get pregnant for more than six months without success, see your doctor. A physician can help assess your fertility potential, determine if you are ovulating properly or have any scarring adhesions that may affect your fertility.
More than 176 million women worldwide have endometriosis. Online support groups and organizations are available to assist the endometriosis community.
Endometrial tissue can form in women with active ovarian hormone production. This restricts the diagnosis of endometriosis to women of reproductive age. Symptoms can occur during adolescence. Many women are not diagnosed until they are older.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, the symptoms of endometriosis can be greatly lessened and fertility improved. If you feel as if you are experiencing severe pain during your menstrual cycles, then it is a good idea to talk with your physician so that they can perform the tests needed to determine if you have endometriosis. You are not alone if you are diagnosed, and there are many support groups both online and offline to help you cope and get help to manage symptoms.