Endometriosis is a condition that affects the reproductive health of many women. The condition occurs when cells that line the interior of the uterus grow elsewhere, usually in the pelvis or around the womb, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis is a common cause of infertility in women, but it can go unnoticed during fertility testing. Infertility clinics can diagnose and treat endometriosis if you are experiencing adverse symptoms that are affecting your health.
What Happens When I Have Endometriosis?
The womb’s lining, or endometrium, is made up of endometrial cells that thicken in anticipation of a fertilized egg. If fertilization doesn’t occur, the endometrial cells are shed during menses. Endometriosis occurs when these cells grow outside the womb. This abnormal tissue growth can block the eggs from traveling through the fallopian tubes, prevent fertilized eggs from implanting, or scar the ovaries and fallopian tubes. These extra cells may fail to find an exit when the others shed during menses, causing a buildup of tissue.
Endometriosis affects women of menstrual age and can remain undetected for many years. Some cases don’t cause any noticeable symptoms or pose any risk to fertility. Other cases result in undesirable symptoms, including pain, fatigue, and difficulty getting pregnant. If you have endometriosis that prevents you from conceiving, infertility clinics can help you assess treatment options. Here is the staging system infertility doctors use to evaluate the severity of endometriosis:
- Stage I: Minimal condition involving a few tiny specs or implants of endometriosis with no visible scar tissue
- Stage II: Mild condition with more tissue covering no more than two inches of the abdomen with no visible scar tissue
- Stage III: Moderate condition with deep endometrial tissue growth, possible pockets of endometriotic fluid in the ovaries, and visible scar tissue
- Stage IV: Severe condition with a significant amount of endometriotic implants, fluids, and scar tissue in the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes
Can My Endometriosis Be Treated?
Endometriosis is a treatable condition. Your infertility doctor may recommend medication, minimally invasive surgery, or hysterectomy, depending on the severity of your condition. Before recommending treatment, the doctor must complete a thorough evaluation to assess the extent of the tissue growth. Tests that infertility doctors use to check for clues of endometriosis include pelvic examinations, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging, and laparoscopies. If the diagnosis reveals the presence of endometriosis, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
Your doctor can prescribe medication for mild-to-moderate endometriosis. Common medications include pain relievers, oral contraceptives, hormonal treatments, progesterone, danazol, and GnRH agnostics. Pain relievers help to manage the pain, while danazol suppresses your menstrual cycle to prevent the endometrial cells from growing.
GnRH agnostics suppress your pituitary gland, which then reduces the levels of hormones that act on your ovaries. Your doctor can also prescribe aromatase inhibitors to help lower estrogen levels. The remaining medications fool your body into thinking you’re pregnant or past menopause. Infertility doctors use such drugs because the symptoms of endometriosis improve during pregnancy and after menopause.
2. Minimally Invasive Surgery
If you experience severe pain and symptoms that don’t respond to medication, your doctor may recommend surgery. Standard procedures include laparoscopy, laser surgery, laparotomy, and electrocautery. These minimally invasive surgeries can help specialists divide and remove endometrial adhesions while preserving your ability to become pregnant.
A laparoscopic procedure involves making an incision in the abdomen to view and remove the endometrial tissue. Laser surgery uses heat beams, and electrocautery uses electricity to produce heat and destroy the excess tissue. Each of these procedures can be done during a laparoscopy, which involves inserting a pencil-thin camera and surgical instrument through an incision in the abdomen.
In severe endometriosis cases, a fertility specialist may recommend a hysterectomy. This is a major surgery that involves removing excess endometrial cells, the uterus, and, in some cases, the ovaries and fallopian tubes. While it is an effective endometriosis treatment, a hysterectomy eliminates the possibility of getting pregnant. You won’t have periods because the procedure removes your womb and all other parts of your reproductive system with abnormal endometrial cells.
If you choose to undergo a hysterectomy, your infertility center can help you explore other methods of starting a family. Surrogate mothers, donors, and adoption are viable options when you cannot carry a pregnancy to full term. Your doctor can also recommend hormonal replacement therapy to help you combat the symptoms of menopause that may occur after surgery.
Visit Infertility Clinics for Endometriosis Treatment
Endometriosis can cause symptoms like pelvic pain, pain during or after sex, heavy periods, and painful periods that don’t respond to over-the-counter medication. This condition can also make it difficult for women to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term. If endometriosis is affecting your ability to get pregnant, infertility clinics can help you find a solution. Contact a reputable infertility clinic today to learn more about the medications and surgeries used in endometriosis treatment.