Welcome to the endometriosis awareness month!
We at Tahe Fertilidad are aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of endometriosis for women who may not yet have a diagnosis.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common and long-term condition, estrogen-dependent, characterized by the growing of endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus) outside the uterus, such as in the ovaries, fallopian tubes or pelvis which promotes an inflammatory reaction.
To date, its cause is unknown, although we know that there is a genetic predisposition.
What are your symptoms?
It is very important that women are aware of the symptoms of endometriosis as you may not discover you have the disease until you are actively trying for a baby.
The symptoms can be diverse and potentially can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. You might suffer from:
- Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Pain during and after sex
- Pain when urinating or defecating
- Sterility problems
How many women does it affect?
Between 7% and 15% of women of childbearing age suffer from endometriosis.
There are several methods employed to obtain a diagnosis including physical examination, ultrasound or CT, but currently the diagnostic method that is most reliable is a laparoscopy, since it allows a visual inspection of the pelvis.
A woman who cannot conceive is 6 to 8 times more likely to suffer from endometriosis.
Is there a treatment?
Currently there is no definitive treatment for endometriosis. The treatment available is symptomatic, designed to reduce pain and sterility. Hormone therapy and analgesia is used, and in more advanced cases surgical methods can be used in specialist centers.
Treatment regimes must be flexible, adapted for each patient specifically. The patient must take a proactive role in the management of the disease to ensure it is controlled effectively.
How does endometriosis affect fertility?
Endometriosis is not the equivalent of “being sterile”, although infertility and endometriosis may often be related. .
Recent studies confirm that endometriosis has been detected in 25% to 35% of women where a conceptual problem has been identified and pregnancy rates are far lower for women with endometriosis prior to assisted reproductive treatment.
These rates are lower the more severe the disease is. With in vitro fertilization there is a tendency for lower numbers of oocytes which are retrieved and these can be poorer in quality. In addition, fertilization and implantation rates can be significantly reduced. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that endometriosis surgery before IVF helps improve conception rates although it may help in terms of stimulating and promoting natural conception.
Regarding pregnancy, women with endometriosis have a higher incidence of premature births, preeclampsia, ante partum hemorrhage, placental complications and caesarean sections, compared to women who do not suffer from this disease.