Endometriosis: the Silent Disease we Give Visibility to Today

A few days ago, we welcomed the month of March, thus marking what in many parts of the world is considered Endometriosis Awareness Month. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), endometriosis affects approximately 10% of women of childbearing age, yet it remains a condition whose diagnosis is not always easy to obtain and whose many significant details, such as its origin, are still unknown. 

However, being the professionals in reproductive medicine we are at IVF-Life and, consequently, a mouthpiece of information and dissemination for society, with this article we want to shed some light on endometriosis, what is known about it and its implications for women’s fertility. 

Endometriosis: Definition and Symptomatology

Endometriosis is a chronic disease that develops when endometrial-like tissue – the inner lining of the uterus – grows outside the uterus, most commonly on the ovaries. It can also develop in the bladder, in the abdominal cavity or, as shocking as it may seem, in the lung or gums. 

Although considered a benign condition, endometriosis usually manifests itself in the form of severe pain, particularly during menstruation, which is very different from the menstrual discomfort that most women experience or that may occur when urinating or defecating. Women with endometriosis may also experience bloating and suffer from chronic fatigue or fertility problems. 

The severity of endometriosis will depend on the existence and extent of the lesions, which will ultimately define the different degrees of the disease: I, II, III and IV. In the initial stage, there are isolated and superficial implants, while in more advanced stages, adhesions and deeper lesions may appear, as well as the so-called “chocolate cysts” or endometriomas described by specialists. 

The Importance of an Endometriosis Diagnosis and the Challenges of Establishing It

As mentioned above, the diagnosis of endometriosis can sometimes be complex, due to the wide variety of symptoms that characterise the disease – but which are not always linked to endometriosis in the first instance. 

It is estimated that it takes 8 to 10 years for women to be diagnosed with endometriosis, which leads to two main problems. The first is related to the impairment of their quality of life, as the pain associated with the condition can be disabling. In addition, the ability to put a name to the discomfort they suffer for years helps these patients to feel emotionally validated and to finally be able to know the different treatment options available. 

Faced with this problem, the medical community is developing methods to boost early diagnosis which can take place in gynaecological consultations and in young people, in order to prevent endometriosis, for example, from being discovered in almost 40% of cases in fertility clinics, when patients seek reproductive counselling. 

While a few years ago endometriosis was diagnosed through laparoscopy, nowadays the patient’s description of the symptoms and an ultrasound scan are sufficient, with the former being used more as a surgical method.

How do Medical Experts Address Endometriosis?

If anything has been proven over the years, it is that even if endometriosis is diagnosed in a gynaecological visit, it should be treated in a multidisciplinary approach due to its implications. 

There is currently no cure for endometriosis, but there are treatments that can alleviate its consequences. Analgesics can relieve pain, as can hormone treatments, which in certain cases can also slow down the progression of the disease. Surgery is an option for women who are in severe pain, bearing in mind that removing a cyst does not mean that another one will not appear. 

Finally, when talking about the impact of endometriosis on fertility, we must bear in mind that, as this is an inflammatory, progressive and chronic condition, the best decision a patient of childbearing age can take is to preserve her fertility. Endometriosis can affect ovarian reserve, oocyte quality or endometrial receptivity, among other things, and this means that freezing eggs when fertility is not yet completely compromised is a powerful way of fulfilling a subsequent desire to have children. 

You, your Endometriosis and IVF-Life

The team of specialists in reproductive medicine at IVF-Life has been making motherhood more than just an idyllic aspiration for more than a decade. Our personalised processes, our experience in dealing with cases involving pathologies such as endometriosis as well as the success rates that prove it, are the aspects that we encourage you to consider in order to start your fertility treatment with us. 

Endometriosis is a reality that conditions many women and our aim for the month of March is for your reality to also become ours. Come and meet us!