Endometriosis affects roughly ten percent of American women between the ages of 25-40 (more than 6.5 million), the time when most women begin trying to conceive. This disease occurs when cells similar to those found in the lining of the uterus (endometrium) attach themselves outside of the uterus and tissue begins to grow.
These endometrial-like growths typically occur in the pelvic region where they attach to your fallopian tubes, ovaries and the exterior of your uterus. In some cases the tissue attaches to the other parts of your body as well. The symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Excessive period cramps
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Pain during intercourse
- Painful emptying of the bladder or bowel while menstruating
- Back pain
- Other GI issues such as diarrhea, constipation and nausea
Current Treatment of Endometriosis
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the cause of infertility in 24%-50% of women diagnosed is endometriosis. In mild to moderate cases of endometriosis, the infertility is temporary. Usually surgical removal of scar tissue, adhesions and cysts restores fertility. While surgery helps ease symptoms and restore fertility in some cases there is no cure for endometriosis and your symptoms may return.
Of course, once your doctor diagnoses endometriosis you’ll begin treatment be it surgical or hormonal or simply a watchful observance of the progression of your endo. Other treatment for endometriosis, depending on symptoms and progression of the disease, include:
- “Watch and wait” if you experience mild endo symptoms.
- Oral contraceptives, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring control the flow of estrogen responsible for the growth of tissue.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone blocker to pause production of estrogen in the ovaries.
Infertility and Endometriosis
When treating infertility caused by endometriosis your doctor uses surgery and IVF. Surgery on its own, helps improve the odds of conceiving in mild to moderate cases of endometriosis. Surgery may restore fertility even some severe cases of endo. For the most severe cases doctors look to preserve as much ovarian tissue as possible and minimize further damage. IVF offers the greatest chance of pregnancy for those with more than moderate endometriosis.
Cause of Endometriosis Remain Unknown
Even though there is no cure for endometriosis researchers are attempting to uncover the reasons the disease occurs, to further treatment and possibly a cure. There are several theories being tested but nothing conclusive. The most widely accepted theory right now comes from the Office on Women’s Health. They believe endometriosis most likely occurs when the tissue shed in the menstrual flow backs into the pelvic region and attaches to an organ. Other popularly accepted theories include:
- Genetic Factors: endometriosis tends to run in families.
- Immune Disorders: Immune disorders are common in those with endo, and there may be a link.
- Previous Abdominal Surgery: Surgeries in the abdominal area could cause an unintended displacement of endometrial tissue.
- Hormonal Imbalance: A long term hormonal imbalance may cause an overabundance of estrogen which promotes endometriosis.
What’s On the Horizon in Endo Treatment?
Many emerging treatments are still in clinical trial stages. The medical community remains hopeful that new treatment for endometriosis is on the horizon. One promising medication is dichloroacetate or DCA which appears to lower the production of lactate, reducing the survival and growth of endometriosis.
Metformin, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, shows great promise as well. This non-sulfonylurea drug has anti-inflammatory, anti-growth and anti-estrogenic (estrogen) effects n endometrial tissue. Taking metformin may improve pregnancy rates for those diagnosed with endometritis-related infertility.
There is always research into new surgical treatments too. Scientists continue testing the effects of things like fluorescent imaging and light therapy relating to adhesion removal. This could prevent the need for repeated surgeries and actually control symptoms for longer periods.
Laparoscopic technology continues to improve. Fine-tuning minimally invasive surgery helps make it more efficient and recovery much easier.
Get Help for Your Endometriosis
The good news is the research on endometriosis, it’s causes and treatment is ongoing. Currently new treatments continue to the trial stage but the earlier your diagnosis the better it is for preserving your fertility. If you exhibit any symptoms of endometriosis or suspect you suffer from endo please see your doctor.
For more information on preserving your fertility contact LA IVF. We specialize in cutting edge treatment for infertility and will partner with you on your journey. Come grow your family with LA IVF.