Endometriosis is a condition where cells that normally cover the inside of the uterus grow on the outside the uterus. This is most commonly seen on the ovaries or surrounding tissues, tissues around the uterus, and on the fallopian tubes. In some rare cases, it may also grow in other parts of the body. Endometriosis is a debilitating condition that has both psychological and social impacts. Experts are still unsure regarding the cause. However, one of the most important risk factors of endometriosis is a positive family history of the disorder.
The areas affected by endometriosis bleed every month, which results in inflammation and scarring. A diagnosis can be made based on the patient’s symptoms, medical imaging, and a biopsy. There has been some evidence that suggests that combined oral contraceptives, exercise, and avoidance of large amounts of alcohol may reduce the risk of endometriosis. Although there is no cure it can be managed using hormonal treatments, pain medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), birth control pills, intrauterine devices with progesterone, or surgery can also help improve symptoms.
For those trying to conceive, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist may help increase the chances of pregnancy. It is estimated that as of 2015, about 10.8 million individuals are affected worldwide. Others estimate about 6 to 10 percent of women are affected. Endometriosis is the most common among women in their 30s and 40s.
Endometriosis Sign #1: Infertility
The risk of infertility among patients with endometriosis ranges from 30 to 50 percent. Although the mechanism of how infertility causes endometriosis is still not clear, some possible mechanisms include adhesions or anatomical distortions that occur, and the release of factors from endometriomas that are detrimental to embryos or gametes.
Another theory is that endometriosis could be a secondary phenomenon that is more likely to occur in women who are unable to conceive due to other reasons. Management for infertility includes surgery and in-vitro fertilization.