Endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the inside of the uterus grows in other parts of the body, is estimated to affect 6.3 million women in the United States. The condition can be very painful with symptoms including:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods
- Intestinal pain
- Chronic pain in lower back or pelvis
- Pain during or after sex
- Painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods
- Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
There is no cure for endometriosis, and treatment depends on your age, symptoms and plans for getting pregnant. Symptoms can be suppressed by getting pregnant or hormonal treatments, but they will recur after a baby is born or the hormonal treatments stop.
Surgery typically provides the most relief from severe endometriosis and the best hope for women experiencing infertility. With laparoscopy, which is also used to diagnose endometriosis, a fertility doctor can also treat the disease by removing growths and scar tissue or burning them away without harming the healthy tissue around it. Laparotomy is a more complex surgery with a larger cut in the abdomen to remove growths in the pelvis or abdomen. Hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, is the surgery of last resort.
Women with severe endometriosis may be advised to have their ovaries removed, which makes the endometriosis less likely to return. This, of course, makes it impossible to produce eggs for future reproductive purposes.
Early diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis are important. The disease is progressive and can impair ovarian function; thus, if you have the disease, you should ask your doctor about egg freezing. By preserving your fertility now, you may be able to have a family later even if your ovaries are no longer producing good eggs.
In addition, if you are going to undergo surgical treatment to remove the uterus and ovaries, freezing your eggs could allow you to build a family via a gestational surrogate at a later date.
December 18, 2012
Posted by Leigh Ann Woodruff