A Widespread Health Concern For Women

Endometriosis is a chronic, inflammatory condition where tissue from the endometrium or uterine lining grows outside the uterus, affecting 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. This tissue reacts to hormones like estrogen producing symptoms including chronic pelvic pain, menstrual irregularity, and painful intercourse. The condition is also linked to depression and anxiety. Infertility is commonly associated with endometriosis and occurs in 35-40% of women affected. There are treatment options to consider for infertility associated with endometriosis including medical hormonal management, surgical modalities, and assisted reproductive technologies (ART).


Medical hormonal management

Endometriosis is considered an estrogen-dependent disorder. Common hormonal therapies target this phenomenon reducing symptoms such as pelvic pain and abnormal menses. This technique inhibits the growth of endometrial tissue. Hormonal therapies include oral contraceptives or a combination of these medications. A healthcare provider can determine the best options and create an individualized care plan.

Surgical modalities

Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure, can add value both in making an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis and in providing treatment options. Benefits of surgical approaches are restoration of pelvic anatomy, removal of scar tissue, ablation of abnormal endometrial cells, and reducing pain and inflammation. This promotes a more viable reproductive system, removing potential barriers to a healthy pregnancy. Surgical modalities additionally improve quality of life in women experiencing pelvic pain linked to endometriosis.

Assisted reproductive technologies

Currently, the mainstay of infertility treatment with endometriosis is in vitro fertilization (IVF). Research shows that women with infertility and endometriosis managed with IVF have higher pregnancy success rates compared to women with infertility from other causes. IVF involves retrieving eggs form the ovary and fertilizing with sperm in a lab creating an embryo that is implanted in the uterus. This process is largely carried out by an IVF specialist with further training in reproductive medicine.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle also plays a critical role in optimizing fertility. Aim for a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise. Moderate exercise on most days of the week can reduce inflammation and enhance overall health and well-being. Stress management, including relaxation techniques, massage therapy, and meditation, adds benefits to reducing exacerbating factors of endometriosis. Another alternative, acupuncture, a component of traditional Chinese medicine, has shown promise in alleviating the stress and anxiety related to infertility providing a sense of empowerment.

Taking control of this journey to parenthood

Endometriosis can create roadblocks to pregnancy and infertility. There are treatment options to consider including hormonal therapy to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce tissue growth, surgical procedures like laparoscopy to remove abnormal endometrial tissue, and ART including IVF to assist with fertilization and implantation. Discussing these management options with a healthcare provider will empower this journey to parenthood.

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