Endometriosis is a common condition in women that can lead to difficulty conceiving. While official numbers report that endometriosis affects about 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States and 176 million women worldwide, actual numbers are most likely higher.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain during menstruation. Because many women think this type of pain is part of menstruating, they often don’t report it to their doctors, or their disorder goes undiagnosed.
If you’re struggling with fertility and also are experiencing severe pelvic pain during your period, consult an expert in endometriosis diagnosis and treatment, such as Dr. Francisco J. Garcini at Gynecologic Surgery and Menopause Solutions.
What is endometriosis?
When it’s time for your monthly period, the tissue lining your uterus, also called the endometrium, grows thick with blood and nutrients to prepare for receiving a fertilized egg. In the case of women with endometriosis, this tissue grows outside of your uterus, such as on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, ligaments, and other pelvic organs.
Even though this tissue is not in your uterus where a fertilized egg would fall, it still thickens in preparation for an egg every month. This thickened lining doesn’t exit your body as your menstrual blood does, instead building up in your pelvic region, creating scar tissue and other issues.
The most common symptom of endometriosis is severe pelvic pain around the time of menstruation. The pain has been described as debilitating and far worse than regular menstrual cramps. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Lower back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain with urination and bowel movements
- Heavy bleeding during menstruation
- Spotting in between periods
- Diarrhea, constipation, and nausea during your period
Endometriosis and fertility
About 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis experience fertility problems. To become pregnant, your egg, after it’s released from an ovary, travels through a fallopian tube and combines with sperm to become fertilized. The fertilized egg, or embryo, subsequently attaches itself to your uterus to begin its growth and development.
Endometrium can interfere with this process. The trapped lining in your pelvic region and on your reproductive organs may form into cysts or irritate the surrounding tissue, causing scar tissue. Such cysts and scar tissue can obstruct the joining of egg and sperm. Other ways endometriosis can interfere with this process include:
- Damaging the sperm or egg
- Distorting the shape of the pelvis
- Impacting the quality of the egg
- Distorting the uterine lining so the embryo can’t implant
Endometriosis also increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy, an abnormal pregnancy in which the embryo grows outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, and does not attach to the uterus. This type of pregnancy is dangerous if not treated promptly.
Endometriosis treatment options
Even if you’re not experiencing fertility problems or you’re not planning to have a baby, endometriosis can still cause painful and debilitating symptoms. Dr. Garcini offers the latest diagnostic and treatment options to treat endometriosis and fertility problems. Treatment options depend on your symptoms and desired outcomes.
This is the least aggressive form of treatment. Taking birth control pills can help regulate your hormones and slow the growth of endometrial tissue. However, this therapy is not ideal if your goal is to get pregnant.
Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat endometriosis. During the procedure, Dr. Garcini removes endometrial patches and adhesions to improve your chances of conceiving.
This treatment is for women who no longer plan to have children. This procedure eliminates, or ablates, the lining of your uterus. In most cases, your period stops entirely, as well as the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of endometriosis.
Having endometriosis doesn’t automatically mean you can’t conceive. To learn more about endometriosis, infertility, and treatment options, call Gynecologic Surgery and Menopause Solutions in New Lenox, Illinois, or use the online scheduling tool on this website to make an appointment.