Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK. It is a condition that causes painful or heavy periods, and may also lead to infertility, fatigue, bladder or bowel problems. Around 1.5 million women in the UK are currently living with the condition, and it can affect any woman of a childbearing age.
Endometriosis Awareness Week aims to raise a greater understanding of the condition, highlight the consequences of living with this condition, and create wider awareness amongst medical professionals, employers, and society in general.
Here at CARE, we provide fertility treatment to many women suffering from endometriosis. We understand how much it can affect people’s lives, and want to help raise awareness amongst all women. So if you’d like to find out more about the condition, here’s a few important points about endometriosis and its potential effect on fertility.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a common condition where pieces of tissue from the inner lining of the uterus become implanted elsewhere outside of the womb. They can appear in many places throughout the body including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, lining of the abdomen, and around the bladder and bowel. These cells react to the menstrual cycle each month and also bleed. However, there is no way for this blood to leave the body which can cause inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue. With the right treatment, many of these issues can be addressed, and the symptoms of endometriosis can be made more manageable. Yet, the concern is that many women will often go years without getting properly diagnosed.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a woman’s life in a number of ways, including:
- Chronic pain in your lower stomach or back
- Strong period pains
- Heavy periods
- Pain after or during intercourse
- Difficulty getting pregnant
It can sometimes be difficult to diagnose endometriosis because the symptoms can vary so significantly and are shared by other conditions. But if you feel you are suffering from many of these symptoms, we recommend contacting your GP for advice.
How is it treated?
The treatments of endometriosis aim to ease the symptoms of the condition so it doesn’t interfere with your daily life.
The treatments your GP may recommend include:
- Hormone medicines and contraceptives
- Surgery – to remove parts of the endometriosis tissue
- An operation to remove parts of the organs affected – such as the womb
Your gynaecologist will be able to discuss the benefits and risks of each of the treatments available. When you are deciding which treatment is best for you, there are several things you and your doctor should consider, particularly whether your main symptom is pain or becoming pregnant and how you feel about surgery.
How does it affect fertility?
It is important to note that endometriosis doesn’t usually cause infertility, and doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to have children. Rather, it means that, depending on the severity of your condition, you may well experience difficulty becoming pregnant.
Endometriosis can affect the fallopian tube, fertilisation of the egg, implantation of the embryo and pregnancy chances.
If you are worried you may be suffering from endometriosis, we advise that you see your GP to get help. And if you are worried about your fertility, please don’t hesitate to contact your nearest CARE clinic today to discuss your fertility options.
Our expert team will be more than happy to help you.