Endometriosis is a common source of pain and inconvenience for women. Endometriosis is a disorder that occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of a woman’s uterus grows outside of the uterus. This can cause a number of symptoms including chronic pain in the pelvis (especially during menstrual periods) as well as pain during sex, heavy menstrual bleeding, nausea or vomiting, and longer-than-normal menstrual periods. In addition to the side effects we’ve already mentioned, endometriosis has also been strongly linked to female infertility.
The exact connection between these two conditions can be hard to trace, but we do know that between 30-40% of women with endometriosis also suffer from fertility issues. It’s common for women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis to wonder what their diagnosis could mean for their future fertility. The precise cause and effect relationship between endometriosis and infertility has not been fully discovered. It is not known with certainty whether endometriosis causes infertility or if it’s possible that infertility and delayed pregnancy affects a woman’s chances of developing endometriosis.
Though mysterious, the link between these two conditions is undeniable. Women with even mild endometriosis should be proactive when thinking about their fertility, even if they’re not planning on becoming pregnant in the immediate future. Endometriosis prevention can help preserve fertility. The first option recommended for treating endometriosis is often medication. Certain over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage discomfort, but we recommend hormonal-based medications like birth control pills, hormonal IUDs, or hormone therapy that work to slow the growth of endometrial tissue.
Hormonal suppressant medications like Lupron Depot® are commonly prescribed to help relieve endometriosis pain and shrink lesions. If medications are unsuccessful, surgery can also be used to treat endometriosis if the patient is in significant pain or is having fertility issues. Surgery can be performed to remove the endometrial tissue, although the tissue will typically return. Birth control pills are commonly prescribed after surgery to prevent recurrences of endometriosis. Preventing these recurrences can help preserve fertility, so the pill is an excellent treatment option for women who are not yet planning to become pregnant.
Knowing the severity of your endometriosis is an important step in treating it and preventing potential fertility issues. At Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we will begin by performing an ultrasound to see if the ovaries are affected. This will allow us to diagnose the degree of your endometriosis and help you plan the most appropriate course of treatment. Sometimes exploratory laparoscopy surgery is required to diagnose endometriosis. To request an appointment with one of our board-certified gynecologists, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today at (678) 380-1980. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more stories and developments in the field of reproductive health.