Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissue outside of the uterine cavity and uterine musculature. This means that the uterine lining that normally builds and sheds each month begins to grow outside of the uterus on other reproductive or non-reproductive organs within the peritoneal cavity. This condition can be very painful, and distressing can affect a woman’s fertility.

Endometriosis normally presents in women between 20-40 years of age and can be very painful.

Common Symptoms of Endometriosis

  • Very heavy periods
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • Pain during defecation (dyschezia) or urination (dysuria)
  • Infertility

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

If you present endometriosis symptoms, your doctor may order several important tests to determine the diagnosis.

  • A full blood count to check for any signs of infection, anemia, or kidney dysfunction.
  • An abdominal and transvaginal ultrasound to see if there are any obvious anatomical changes in your reproductive or non-reproductive organs.
  • An MRI or CT scan to help detect abnormalities, especially ectopic endometrial tissues, in the area where you are experiencing pain.
  • Laparoscopy, in which a camera is inserted through a small incision into your belly while you are under general anaesthetic.

Causes of Endometriosis

Factors that may increase your risk of developing endometriosis include a low birth weight, early puberty, obesity, short menstrual cycles, diets containing high amounts of red meat, late menopause, and certain genetic factors.

Some factors may also help to prevent endometriosis. These include multiple pregnancies and prolonged lactation, and diets containing high amounts of fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Treating Endometriosis

  • The first step of treating endometriosis is typically administration of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Hormonal treatments that mimic pregnancy or menopause can also help to prevent further development of the condition by preventing menstruation and hormonal cycling and maintain the endometrial lining.
  • Several surgical options may also be recommended for you depending on the location and severity of your condition.

Coping with Endometriosis

The chronic pain and stress of endometriosis can take extreme tolls on a woman’s mental health. Monash IVF counselling suggests

  • Surrounding yourself with a good support system such as friends and family is important when experiencing any difficult physical or emotional tolls.
  • For some women, it can be very helpful to seek counselling or to join support groups and share with others having similar experiences.
  • Tracking and treating your symptoms according to your doctor’s directions can also help with the stress and anxiety of your cycles.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen is also vital in the treatment of endometriosis.
  • Managing your diet and exercise can significantly help to minimize inflammation as well as to maintain your blood pressure and serotonin levels.

Endometriosis and Fertility

Unfortunately, in addition to severe pain, one of the most significant complications caused by endometriosis is infertility. About 30-50% of women experiencing endometriosis will also have difficulty conceiving. Several treatments may be available to you to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. The course of treatment will depend on your condition’s progression and location.

This may include hormonal treatments in combination with intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Discuss your options with Monash IVF fertility specialists: info.sg@monashivf.com