What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus is found in other areas, such as the pelvis. This endometrial tissue is most commonly found around the outside of the uterus, surrounding the tubes, or even within the ovaries. In rare instances, the tissue has been found in the chest cavity or even within an abdominal scar.
What causes endometriosis?
There are a few theories as to how the endometrial tissue gets to the abnormal locations, resulting in endometriosis. The oldest and most accepted theory is by Sampson, who hypothesized that some of the menstrual fluid travels through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvis. The fluid then starts growing in the new location in response to hormones each month. Another common theory is the movement of the tissue from the uterus via the blood or lymphatic system to distant sites. Another theory is the transition of normal tissues to resemble the abnormal endometrial tissue. Recent areas of investigation include the role of the immune system in the development of endometriosis.
What are some of the symptoms of endometriosis?
Endometriosis can cause pain, inflammation, and infertility. The location of pain from endometriosis depends on the location of the abnormal tissue implants. Some women will feel pain during their menses, and others will have it all of the time. Endometriosis can result in infertility by two ways. First, it causes an immunological response that promotes an adverse environment for the egg, sperm, and embryos in the pelvis. Secondly, as an inflammatory condition, it can destroy the normal pelvic architecture that facilitates egg pick-up by the fallopian tube.
How is endometriosis treated?
We can treat endometriosis symptoms with either medications or surgical treatment. If you are trying to become pregnant, then you will be unable to take the medications used to treat endometriosis and therefore, only surgical treatment would be used to treat severe pain. Even surgical treatment plays a very limited role in the treatment of infertility caused by endometriosis. If you are not trying to become pregnant, there are many effective medications that can be used to control the pain and inflammation caused by endometriosis. Surgery would only be done when your symptoms are unmanageable, even with the medications.
What types of fertility treatments can help women with endometriosis?
A woman with mild endometriosis is often successful in achieving pregnancy with controlled ovarian hyperstimulation along with inseminations. For women with severe endometriosis, the greatest success is achieved with in-vitro fertilization.
If you believe or know you have endometriosis, Idaho Fertility Center is here to help! Please contact us at (208) 529-2019 to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled Reproductive Endocrinologists in Idaho Falls, Idaho.