Have you been trying to get pregnant for a while with no success? Are you experiencing severe discomfort during menstruation and sexual intercourse? Do you have chronic pelvic pain? It’s possible that you have endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a common gynecological disorder that affects an estimated 10 percent of women of reproductive age in the United States. Medical researchers remain uncertain of the precise cause of endometriosis, though progress continues to be made in the areas of diagnosis and treatment. While endometriosis most commonly affects women in their 20s and 30s, the disease can be found in women of all ages. The primary symptoms of endometriosis are severe discomfort during menstruation and sexual intercourse, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility.
Our fertility specialists are expertly trained in diagnosing and treating endometriosis symptoms. Please contact Midwest Fertility Center right away if you believe you might be suffering from this condition – the advanced treatment options we offer can provide you with relief and hope.
During menstruation, the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, is shed. Endometriosis occurs when the endometrium begins to develop outside of the uterus, on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs in the pelvic region, causing serious complications.
The endometrial tissue that is growing outside of the uterus continues to respond to the hormones released during the menstrual cycle. This means that each month, the endometrial tissue outside of the uterus builds up, breaks down, and bleeds. The body reacts to this internal bleeding by surrounding the endometrial tissue with scar tissue. Over time, this scar tissue builds up, resulting in the chronic pain experienced by many endometriosis sufferers.
For some women, scar tissue can develop around the ovaries and fallopian tubes, which may block both the release of an oocyte and its passage through the fallopian tubes into the uterus, thereby preventing pregnancy. Although pain is an indicator of the presence of endometriosis, the level of pain experienced does not directly correlate to the extent of the condition. Some women do not experience any pain, yet they have moderate to severe endometriosis; others have terrible pain, but have only minimal endometrial growths. This is why it is so essential for patients to get an accurate diagnosis of the disease.
While severe pain during menstruation and sexual intercourse can be an indication that endometrial growths are present, one of the most accurate methods of detecting endometriosis is through diagnostic laparoscopy performed at one of our Chicago or Northwest Indiana centers.
Laparoscopy is a minor surgical procedure in which a tiny camera is placed through an incision in the abdomen, allowing the surgeon to clearly view the pelvic and abdominal organs and check for endometrial growths. Knowing the extent of a patient’s endometriosis is important for creating an appropriate and effective treatment strategy.
During laparoscopy, the physician may chose to surgically remove endometrial lesions. Another treatment option is the administration of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonists (GnRHa), which can be performed in conjunction with surgical intervention or on its own.
GnRH, short for Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone, stimulates and regulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), two pituitary hormones that are essential for reproduction. FSH catalyzes the maturation of the follicles to produce an oocyte; a surge in LH initiates ovulation.
GnRHa therapy is a non-surgical treatment method that uses doses of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Agonists to help lower estrogen levels in the body. By lowering estrogen levels, GnRHa therapy decreases the size of endometrial growths, providing relief from the symptoms associated with the condition. If the pain improves, GnRHa therapy can be continued for a full six months.