Endometriosis is a common condition that approximately 176 million women suffer from worldwide (endometriosis.org). During a healthy woman’s menstrual cycle, endometrial tissue lines the womb and thickens each month in preparation for arrival of a blastocyst for pregnancy to occur. If the embryo attaches to the tissue wall and begins to grow, the woman becomes pregnant. However, endometriosis is a disease that causes the endometrial tissue to grow outside of the uterus. Most commonly, these implants are found on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, but can grow on the ligament that supports the uterus, cervix, vagina, bladder, among other locations. This implanted tissue reacts to the hormonal changes as endometrial tissue within the uterus, but can cause complications based on its unique growth and location. This phenomenon leads to bleeding in these areas during menses resulting in discomfort and pain, and can cause inflammation that can create scar tissue which may reduce chances of becoming pregnant.
Any female can be diagnosed with endometriosis, but usually, menstruating women in their 20s and 30s are most susceptible of getting the disease. Symptoms can occur in females of any age and include pelvic and lower back discomfort, painful periods, excessive bleeding, and infertility. However, many infertile women with endometriosis have no symptoms such as pelvic pain. If you think you may have any of these signs of endometriosis, you should contact your doctor immediately to discuss treatment.
The exact causes of endometriosis are unknown, but a few explanations of why this disease occurs so often in females are listed below:
· Retrograde Menstruation – endometrial tissue grows in odd places because of a backup in menstrual fluid
· Coelomic Metaplasia – cells that line the pelvic area manipulate and grow into other forms of cells, specifically endometrial tissue
· Surgery – tissue is moved outside of the uterus wall by common surgical procedures such as Cesarean sections
· Immune System Problems – the body does not recognize the need to rid cells growing in the wrong places
Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are several treatment plans that can decrease pain and help increase chances of fertility:
· Pain Medication – To help alleviate pain and menstrual cramps, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen. If discomfort continues, other treatments may need to be considered.
· Hormone Therapy – Hormonal drugs such as birth control pills, Gn-RH agonists and Depo-Provera can be given to patients to prevent ovulation from taking place. In turn, this will relieve pain and minimize the development of new implants of the endometrial tissue. Even though this treatment will slow the effects of endometriosis, it will not cure existing cysts or scar tissue.
· Surgery – The best possible option to increase your chances of becoming pregnant is to undergo conservative laparoscopic surgery. These types of procedures attempt to remove all endometriosis and growths from the body while protecting the functions of the ovaries and uterus.
For an appointment and a consultation with regards to your endometriosis issues, please consult with our Fertility Clinic in Michigan. To contact Dr. Abuzeid, a Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist please refer to our
Click here for and informational fact sheet about Endometriosis from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine