Have you seen the TV ad that asks, “Got Milk?” For many women a more important question is, “Got Endometriosis?” It’s very common; endometriosis affects about 1 in 10 women. So why don’t more women know its symptoms? And not being aware you have endometriosis can be detrimental to your health and especially your fertility.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue typically found in the uterus starts to grow in other parts of the body, leading to uncomfortable long-term pelvic pain during and between periods. While two-thirds of women know someone who has endometriosis, only 29% of women were able to correctly identify endometriosis’ symptoms, according to a recent survey. Those include progressively worsening menstrual cramps, painful urination, bowel movements and sex among other pelvic discomforts.
Medical professionals often miss the diagnosis. Of more than 200 women with the condition, 42% said their health care professional told them the pain was “part of being a woman,” while nearly half said their health care provider described their symptoms as “normal.”
Correctly diagnosing endometriosis is especially critical relating to a woman’s fertility. It is a major cause of infertility and not being diagnosed might lead to a woman suffering through the symptoms and at the same time wasting precious time trying to conceive without help.
Once diagnosed the common treatments for endometriosis such as hormonal therapy, hormonal suppressive therapy with GnRH agonists or surgery may help restore fertility.
For those whose fertility is not restored by conventional therapy, IVF is the treatment of choice. Until recently women with severe endometriosis did not have average success rates with IVF. But with the advent of more frequent frozen embryo cycles, women with endometriosis are enjoying the same average success rates as women without the condition. Frozen embryos are usually transferred in cycles in which ovulation is suppressed and that seems to have a positive effect on implantation.
If you have some of the suggestive symptoms of endometriosis and your health provider does not suggest an evaluation for endometriosis, be proactive and ask for an endometriosis evaluation whether you are considering conceiving in the near future or not.