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This month is Endometriosis Awareness Month so we’d like to talk a little bit about this painful medical condition that can impair a woman’s fertility. One-third to one-half of women that have endometriosis will have trouble achieving conception. Endometriosis can lower your odds of fertility to as low as 5%. That said, many women who have mild to moderate endometriosis are not only able to conceive but also complete a pregnancy successfully.

With endometriosis, the tissues lining the inside of your uterus grows outside of the uterus, forming lesions, and are usually located in the lower abdomen or pelvic region. Some women will display a host of symptoms while others may only exhibit infertility.

Ten Common Symptoms of Endometriosis

Heavy menstruation. Excessive, long-lasting bleeding should not be ignored, especially if it lasts more than seven days. This kind of period can leave you with anemia, fatigue, and hair loss from reduced iron levels.

Menstrual cramps. These are exhibited by burning cramps that can leave you feeling nauseous, vomiting, or having diarrhea that can interfere with your normal routine.

Pelvic pain. Pain may arise in the pelvis, abdomen, and reproductive organs during your menstrual cycle, and is usually not relieved by over-the-counter medication. However, endometrial pain range from mild (or non-existent) to severe.

Painful intercourse, or dyspareunia. This pain can vary for each woman. Some describe the pain as being mild, others say it feels sharp and stabby, still others say it’s a widespread aching. The pain can arise during penetration or only when the penetration is deep.

Infertility. Endometriosis can leave you with scar tissues that damage the walls of the womb and ovaries, making it difficult to conceive normally, and miscarriage is also increased for those who can conceive.

Bladder problems. With severe endometriosis, there can be pain upon urination, as well as blood, and a frequent need to urinate. If tissue grows inside or around the bladder, you may have bleeding and pain that affects your urethra, bladder and kidneys.

Diarrhea or constipation. If endometrial cells grow in the region between the vagina and your bowels, you may find yourself with painful bowel movements, diarrhea or constipation, particularly if your diet is mainly made up of processed foods lacking fiber.

Back pain. Many women with endometriosis have chronic lower back pain that is felt deep inside the body. These endometrial cells will likely need to be removed surgically from the nerves.

Leg pain. If the lesions grow on or around the sciatic nerve, this can cause a dull ache, a sharp stabbing sensation, or a twinge in the leg that feels like a cramp, and can interfere with standing up fast or walking comfortably.

Exhaustion and mood disorders. Both fatigue and depression can arise from endometriosis, sometimes from hormonal imbalance and other times from the stress of trying to carry on normally during your menstrual cycle.

If you have mild endometriosis, you can likely achieve a successful pregnancy with controlled ovarian hyperstimulation coupled with inseminations. If you have severe endometriosis, you will more successful using in-vitro fertilization. Would you like to know more about endometriosis and your fertility options? If so, or you would like to go ahead and meet with one of our reproductive endocrinologists to explore treatment, please call us at 208-529-2019 in Idaho Falls, Idaho.