Endometriosis awareness month

Digital JournalMarch 6, 2014Articles

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects over 176 million women worldwide and is one of the main causes of infertility.
For some women, severe pain during a monthly cycle may actually be caused by a painful, chronic disease called endometriosis. Endometriosis, for which there is no known cause or cure, can affect fertility, bowel function, gynecological health and most importantly, quality of life.

In honor of March’s Endometriosis Awareness Month, Dr. Meike Uhler of Fertility Centers of Illinois has shared some helpful information with Digital Journal.

Dr. Meike Uhler began by explaining the condition: “Millions of women around the world have endometriosis, and it is one of the most common causes of infertility. It is important that women and those close to them understand the disease, as well as how to alleviate symptoms and overcome fertility challenges.”

In order to understand endometriosis further, Dr. Uhler explains that “each month during menstruation, the endometrial lining found inside the uterus sheds from the body. When the endometrial tissue normally found inside the uterus grows outside the uterus or in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis.”Each month, endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Without the ability to drain from the body as it would in normal menstruation, inflammation and pain result. Endometrial growths have been found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity and between the vagina and rectum. While rare, growths have also been found in the arm, thigh and lung.”The doctor went on to outline how endometriosis affects fertility: “scarring and adhesions from endometriosis can restrict movement of the ovaries, change the position of the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as block the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also increase production of prostaglandins and other hormones that can affect fertility. Roughly 35 to 50 percent of women diagnosed with endometriosis also have infertility, with endometriosis being one of the top three causes of female infertility.”

Dr. Uhler has provided Digital Journal readers with seven common questions about endometriosis, which he hopes will improve understanding about the disease.

1. How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Laparoscopy, a common surgical procedure with a camera that is inserted into the abdominal cavity to directly see endometrial growths, is needed for the diagnosis of endometriosis. Diagnoses can also be made through a biopsy of tissue samples.

2. What are common symptoms?

Symptoms include painful menstruation, pain during sexual activity, painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation, infertility, fatigue, recurrent yeast infections, chemical sensitivities, allergies, and gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation and diarrhea.

3. Can only older women be diagnosed?

Endometrial tissue only forms in women with active ovarian hormone production, restricting diagnoses to women of reproductive age. Symptoms may arise during adolescence, but many women are not diagnosed until they are older.

4. What is the cause?

The cause of endometriosis remains unknown.

5. How many women have endometriosis?

Roughly 176 million women worldwide.

6. Is there a cure?

There is no known cure, but there are solutions available to alleviate symptoms.

7. How can you lessen symptoms?

Through hormonal treatments such as birth control pills, symptoms can be lessened but not eradicated. Symptoms tend to lessen during pregnancy.

Fertility Centers of Illinois isone of the leading fertility treatment practices in the United States, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area since 1976.

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