Endometriosis is a serious medical condition which affects roughly 10% of women. Luckily many women can still become pregnant after dealing with their endometriosis, usually with the assistance of fertility medications. The name comes from the endometrial lining, which is located in the uterus. Every month, the endometrial lining sheds and regrows. If you suffer from endometriosis, your endometrial tissue also grows outside of your uterus. This tissue does not correctly break down like the lining in your uterus. When it does break down, there is no place for the blood to go, which leads to swelling, inflammation and may even cause lesions to grow. The tissue growths cause a number of symptoms, including difficulty becoming pregnant. If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant chances may be that you have endometriosis and treatment with recommended medications can help. Here’s how to know if you have it.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Many women trying to have children do not realize their endometriosis is an issue because they do not realize they suffer from endometriosis in the first place. Endometriosis has a variety of symptoms, ranging in severity from mild to severe. Some women diagnosed with endometriosis even report having none of the traditional symptoms, only knowing they have the condition because it was discovered during gynecological exams. But did you know that nearly 1 in 10 women have it?
The most common symptom with endometriosis is pelvic pain. The severity of the pain varies. Unfortunately, the level of pain is not an indicator of how much the tissue has spread. Some patients are diagnosed endometriosis, because it causes intense pelvic pain.
Other common symptoms include abdomen pain both during and after menstruation. Cramping may also occur up to two weeks before menstruation. Lower back pain is more likely to occur during menstruation as well. Typically, patients only exhibit one symptom, but in severe cases multiple symptoms can occur.
Endometriosis is often challenging to diagnose because it shares so many symptoms with other medical conditions. It is also caused by a number of different factors, so unlike other medical conditions, studying a patient’s medical history may not help. Doctors do know patients who have family members formerly diagnosed with endometriosis are more likely to develop it. Endometriosis occurs at any point in time, even affecting children in some cases.
As of writing, there is no scientific explanation for how endometriosis occurs or why. Popular theories believe endometriosis is a result of imbalanced hormone levels, causing hormone production to occur in cells outside of the uterus, leading to tissue growth. This is partially supported by the fact you can use certain IVF medications, such as menopur or Gonal-F, to regulate hormone levels and lessen or outright remove endometriosis.
Endometriosis is diagnosed in one of four stages. These are minimal, mild, moderate and severe. The type of stage refers to the location, size, depth and the number of endometrial growths.
Becoming Pregnant with Endometriosis
Endometriosis is commonly associated with infertility. While it can cause fertility issues, these are not guaranteed. Even if there are possible fertility complications, doctors can address these problems using a variety of methods. Some endometriosis cases may require surgery to treat, while others are mitigated with medication. Many who are diagnosed with this condition send a copy of their prescription to a reputable online fertility drug pharmacy to reduce the out of pocket costs. Some insurances cover the cost entirely, but you should check to see.
A common issue with endometriosis is the tissue growth causing inflammation along the fimbria. The fimbria is responsible for transporting eggs out of your fallopian tube. If your fimbria becomes inflamed, it may swell and keep the egg from traveling. In severe cases, the inflammation may lead to scarring, creating more tissue which acts as a blockage. The inflammation may also spread to other pelvic organs, interfering in their functions and causing additional fertility issues.
Using Fertility Medication to Treat Endometriosis
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is an excellent option for patients with fertility issues stemming from endometriosis. A large portion of IVF treatment is taking medication. Menopur is commonly recommended to endometriosis patients trying to conceive. Menopur is a hormone injection which increases egg production as well as egg maturation, keeping your eggs from releasing too early or becoming damaged as a result of endometriosis.
Another medication you may be prescribed is Lupron. Lupron is primarily used to treat uterine disorders and hormonal imbalance. It also helps maintain a healthy egg and may prevent early term miscarriage. As part of an IVF treatment, Lupron is generally prescribed alongside other medications. Decapeptyl may be recommended as part of your treatment as well. Decapeptyl helps address early pregnancy issues, including initial conception.
The longer your endometriosis is untreated, the harder it becomes to have children. Severe cases of endometriosis are easier to detect. In these instances, a cyst forms along your ovary, known as an endometrioma. Your doctor can identify an endometrioma with a sonogram. In lesser cases, you must undergo a minor surgery called laparoscopy. If you are lucky, your doctor can treat your endometriosis during laparoscopy. This typically involves the use of cauterization or lasers to treat endometriosis lesions.
In addition to laparoscopy, there are other, more invasive surgical options. Unfortunately, these surgical options come with more side effects, either limiting or outright removing your chances of having a child. In the most extreme cases, your doctor may recommend a hysterectomy. During a hysterectomy, your uterus, cervix and ovaries are removed, along with any cysts or endometriosis lesions. While this can remove your endometriosis, you can’t get pregnant. Because of this, doctors only resort to performing a hysterectomy when all other treatment options have failed, or if your endometriosis has worsened to the point no other treatment is available.
Post Pregnancy Endometriosis
One of the unique aspects of endometriosis is, unlike most other fertility issues, endometriosis improves after pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, your body produces a number of different hormones. These hormones help to naturally resolve endometriosis. Your odds of successfully treating endometriosis after pregnancy increase if you were taking IVF medications. Most IVF drugs further alter your hormones to successfully induce pregnancy, which has a positive effect on your endometriosis.
Your endometriosis is not guaranteed to go away after a successful pregnancy. Speak with your doctor after your pregnancy to see whether your endometriosis is gone, as well as what steps you must take to ensure it does not come back.
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