Raising Endometriosis Awareness in March

One in every 10 women worldwide suffer from endometriosis – a potentially debilitating disease that is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and can severely impact a woman’s quality of life, while also causing infertility. For these reasons, March is observed as #EndometriosisAwarenessMonth – an opportunity to raise awareness of both the disease and the available treatments.

As passionate reproductive health specialists and fertility experts, our team at Medfem Fertility Clinic gladly add our voices to raise awareness about endometriosis, and to provide advice about what to do if endometriosis is affecting your fertility.

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects as many as 176 million women today! It is one of the most common causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women, among a range of other symptoms that can severely affect a woman’s quality of life.

Despite its common incidence of an estimated one in 10 women, there is a concerning lack of awareness and knowledge about endometriosis among both women and healthcare providers worldwide. This is because of the symptoms of endometriosis is similar to many other common conditions, which often leads to it being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, or causes a significant delay between when the symptoms are first experienced until it is correctly diagnosed and treated.

To contribute to raising crucial awareness about endometriosis, we would like share information about endometriosis, in part sourced from The World Endometriosis Society and The World Endometriosis Research Foundation at Endometriosis.org, explaining what endometriosis is and what causes it, what the symptoms are and how it can be treated.

What is endometriosis and what causes it?

Endometriosis is a medical condition that affects 10% of women during their reproductive years, usually between the ages of 15 to 49.

It involves the endometrium – which is tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus – growing outside the uterus, for example, on the pelvic peritoneum, on the ovaries, in the recto-vaginal septum, and on the bladder and/or bowel. Endometriosis has not been proven to be an autoimmune disease, even though it is associated with inflammation and immunological dysfunctions. However, it induces a chronic inflammatory reaction that may result in scar tissue.

There is no known cause, although certain genes may predispose women to the disease. Certainly, women whose mothers and/or sisters are affected by endometriosis have a higher risk of developing the condition.

Endometriosis can start as early as a girl’s first period, and the symptoms may persist beyond menopause particularly if there is scar tissue or adhesions from the disease and/or from surgery.

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

The symptoms of endometriosis are numerous and unpleasant, including:

* painful periods
* painful ovulation
* pain during or after sexual intercourse
* heavy bleeding
* chronic pelvic pain
* fatigue
* infertility.

Concerningly, endometriosis is one of the most common causes of infertility in women, and around 30% of women with infertility problems also have endometriosis.

Endometriosis can affect fertility in many ways. For example, endometrial tissue can cause an inflammatory reaction in the pelvis and this is known to affect every stage of the reproductive process – from the development of the egg in the fallopian tubes to the implantation of the embryo in the uterus.

The scarring and adhesions caused by endometriosis can also distort the physical features of the pelvis, damage the ovaries, or scar, block or damage the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also affect in the hormonal environment of the eggs, as well as impair egg quality and the implantation of embryos.

Because of these debilitating symptoms, endometriosis can also impact on general physical, mental and social well-being.

How is endometriosis treated?

Although there is no known cure for endometriosis, it can be treated effectively to help relieve symptoms and improve a woman’s quality of life. The commonly used treatments include medication and surgery.

Hormonal treatments manage oestrogen production and suppress menstrual periods. For example, several types of medications act by shrinking the lining of the uterus and the endometriotic lesions, including the oral contraceptive pill, progestins/progesterone and the Mirena. Unfortunately, many of these treatments have side-effects.

Surgery can be very effective to diagnose and treat endometriosis lesions and scar tissue.

For example, a hysterectomy, with surgical removal of all the endometriosis at the same time, may relieve symptoms. Removal of the ovaries at the same time as the hysterectomy might also increase the chances of pain relief, but also results in an immediate menopause.

In many situations, laparoscopic surgery is the only definitive way to diagnose and treat endometriosis. Laparoscopy is an operation performed on the inside of the abdomen (tummy) and pelvis, using a tiny but highly advanced camera. It only requires a few small cuts in the abdomen and for this reason, the procedure is also known as keyhole surgery or minimally invasive surgery. Laparoscopy, in most cases, allows endometriosis to be diagnosed and treated in the same procedure.

Thankfully, having endometriosis does not invariably mean that you will be unable to fall pregnant. While the likelihood of fertility problems generally increases with the severity of the disease, as many as 70% of women with endometriosis are still fertile. In addition, about half the women with endometriosis who have difficulties with getting pregnant do eventually conceive with or without treatment.

Furthermore, there are well established and effective medications and procedures available to assist you in falling pregnant even if you have endometriosis.

Finding the right solution for you requires means consulting with a medical professional about your symptoms and how they affect your daily life, and whether you want to have children now or in the future. If you are trying to fall pregnant, it is crucial to seek the advice of a fertility specialist.

Where can I get treatment for endometriosis?

If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, or if you are affected by the symptoms such as infertility – and especially if you need treatment that will ensure you can still conceive a baby in future – we would like to invite you to meet one of our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic.

We use safe and proven methods to establish a clear diagnosis of endometriosis and we recommend highly individualised treatment for each patient.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we also have a fully comprehensive operating theatre with all the necessary equipment to perform procedures such as laparoscopies. In fact, we were one of the first medical facilities in South Africa to have developed such facilities and today Medfem Fertility Clinic is a centre for advanced laparoscopy. Our state-of-the-art theaters are specially designed and fully equipped, and our specialists have also all undergone extensive training abroad and are experts in performing laparoscopies.

At Medfem we believe in helping you reach your family dream through:

* World-Class Fertility for Everyone – we believe in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone
* A Positive Fertility Journey – It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey
* Delivered With Empathy & Caring – So you may have a fond memory, of a feeling of empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem family.

Simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244. Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you at Medfem Fertility Clinic!

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