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What is Endometriosis and How Does it Affect Pregnancy?

Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the endometrial tissues which are normally supposed to be lined inside of the uterus, grows outside. This displaced tissue continues to respond as it would to hormonal changes during your periods. They thicken, break down and bleed. So since there is no exit for this tissue out of your body, it gets trapped, causing severe adhesion and scarring to surroundings tissues. 

Extreme pain during your periods is one of the main symptoms although the pain may also be present during other days of the month. The condition is estimated to affect more than 2 million women in the UK. The condition affects the ovaries, bowel, and the pelvis. Common symptoms of endometriosis include-

  • Painful menses or heavy periods
  • Bloating
  • Bleeding in between period
  • Lower back pain, pelvic pain or lower abdomen pain
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Pain during a bowel movement.
  • Pain during or after sex

It is unfortunate that although the disease is becoming more common in women of childbearing age, it is often little understood. Modern medicine has made a great effort in trying to find the root cause of the condition. Western medicine focuses on anti-inflammatory treatment, hormone therapy or surgery. Traditional Chinese medicine has explained the cause as an impaired liver system causing the body to fail in balancing hormones. 

Environmental toxins play a major role upsetting the body’s hormonal balance. Experts have also advised sufferers to avoid certain foods; rich in fats, sugars, and proteins. Foods rich in calcium, nuts, fruits and vegetables are encouraged since they promote healthy growth of cells. There are many myths surrounding the condition often causing confusing among sufferers and their families. Sometimes it takes up to several years for a woman to realize she is suffering from the condition thus delaying proper treatment. 

8  Myths Surrounding Endometriosis

Too many doctors still hold on to the perception that endometriosis is rare in teenagers and young women. So when young girls complain of the above-mentioned symptoms, the doctor does not consider a diagnosis of endometriosis. This belief has its roots in earlier times when only women in their 40s or above had the condition. The only way the condition could be diagnosed in earlier times was through a major surgery involving a deep incision into the abdomen. 

The risk and cost of this procedure meant that it could only be done to women who were experiencing severe symptoms and were past child-bearing age. Most women who underwent this procedure and were found to have the condition were in their late 30s or 40s. Thus, the notion arose that Endometriosis only affects a woman in that age group. 

However, the introduction of laparoscopy in the 1970 and 1980s moved gynecologists to investigate further the diseases in younger women who were experiencing infertility problems. 

Endometriosis does not necessarily cause infertility, as it is often feared. True, there is a close association of the disorder and infertility, but natural conception is still possible. The main factor to determine whether a woman can conceive is her age. During her lifetime, a woman has an abundant supply of eggs awaiting fertilization. 

After the age of 38, fertility rapidly declines often resulting in miscarriages and abnormalities should she try to get pregnant. Another misconception surrounding the condition is that you will be healed once you conceive. Yet, pregnancy only minimizes the symptoms but is obviously not a permanent solution.

7  How Does it Affect Your Ability to Get Pregnant? 

Untreated Endometriosis often results in the severity of the situation, and when the adhesions become more common, the chances of getting pregnant decreases. The adhesions trap a woman’s egg and block it from going to the fallopian tube. Minimal or mild sufferers of Endometriosis may stand a chance of conceiving naturally but there are some who have become infertile even when the symptoms are mild. 

Some drug treatment can be used to help improve infertility however there is no scientific evidence to support such claims. Surgical removal of the cysts has been seen to produce positive results in terms of improving chances of conception. 

There are several fertility treatments for Endometriosis sufferers but the effectiveness of a particular treatment will often depend on factors such as; age, severity of the condition, the duration in which a woman has been trying to conceive and other fertility factors.

If you get pregnant and you have Endometriosis, the pregnancy will be just as normal as the rest of others. There are reports of women, who said they experienced pain in the first term of the pregnancy, but generally, pain drastically decreases, but will often go back to its severity after getting a baby. Due to high progesterone levels during pregnancy, the symptoms are usually minimized. The condition is thought to worsen due to estrogen dominance. 

6  Causes of Endometriosis

The possible cause of Endometriosis has never been yet fully established. Several theories have been put to explain the situation. One of the most widely accepted theory is that during menstruation, the lining of the womb does not properly exit the body, and attaches itself to the pelvic organs. This condition is referred to as retrograde menstruation. 

However, it still baffles many why even women who have had a hysterectomy still have Endometriosis. Another possible cause is hormonal imbalance resulting in estrogen dominance. That is why most approaches doctors use when treating it is through suppressing estrogen and encouraging the release of more progesterone levels.

If you suspect you have Endometriosis, try to talk to your GP or a gynecologist to establish the cause. It can be difficult to diagnose this condition. There are many other various conditions affecting the reproductive system which have similar symptoms. Your specialist will first determine factors like your sexual activity, the severity of your symptoms and your periods.

Most specialists insist that this condition can only be confirmed through a surgical procedure called a laparoscopy. The process involves insertion of a thin tube with a light at the end through a small cut at the belly button. This gadget acts like a camera, which transmits images to a larger monitor on the screen. It helps the specialist to see where the endometrial tissues are planted. A biopsy is usually taken for further lab investigations. 

5 Endometriosis and infertility issues

Difficulty getting pregnant or complete infertility is one of the main complications of Endometriosis. The symptoms usually subside after one gets pregnant, but is unfortunate that the condition has been seen to recur after childbirth. 

The electric current used in a laparoscopic surgery can successfully remove a large number of the displaced tissues, resulting in improving chances of conceiving naturally. Although some women may need help to conceive afterward. These issues can be discussed with the attending OBG or Gynecologist.

When considering infertility issues arising from Endometriosis, it is also important to consider the emotional stress created and how women cope. Since most women struggle to get pregnant or spend too much worrying if their Endometriosis will affect their pregnancy feelings of worthlessness and anxiety often arise. Women respond differently to the symptoms but all too often, depression, anger, and despair are some of the mixed emotions felt by sufferers.

4  It Affects a Woman Psychologically

Your social life is immediately cut off, since a woman may have to postpone social gatherings with friends and relatives, during those painful times. It drastically affects a woman's life and most women have had to quit their jobs for obvious reasons. 

Society also adds salt to injury by promoting such myths as "a painful period is a normal part of a woman's life". Women may feel pressured to get pregnant and may not have a partner and thus frustrations increase. Talking to a counselor or psychologist can help you to alleviate such feelings and discuss possible treatment methods.

Pregnancy is mainly made difficult due to problems with egg development; the embryo might implant itself in the wall of the uterus, resulting in ectopic pregnancy and blockage of fallopian tubes. There are few women who have conceived despite having Endometriosis. If after several treatment methods have proved futile, in vitro fertilization [IVF] may be considered. 

3  Fertility Treatments and Your Emotional State

Your specialist will discuss possible fertility treatment in order to determine what best works for you. The process can lead to mixed emotions; from excitement to disappointment. It is important that both you and your partner are supported through this process by means of progressive counseling sessions. It is extremely important to know what to expect at the end of the day. 

Counseling helps in prepare you emotionally for the journey you are to take and cope with any disappointments like miscarriages. There are several risk factors that may develop should you get pregnant if you have Endometriosis. These include

  • Premature births
  • Bleeding after 24th week of pregnancy
  • caesarean delivery
  • high blood pressure

Ovarian cysts developing from severe adhesions may cause greater risk to an unborn baby. The baby might be born smaller than normal. A study involving 13000 women who had been diagnosed with Endometriosis had complications at birth or had a cesarean section delivery. Premature labor and birth are also risk factors.

2  Here's What You Need to Know

Studies have shown that about 21-44% of infertile women have Endometriosis and 4-22% of fertile women have been diagnosed with the condition. The situation is not hopeless at all since there are other methods of conceiving like artificial insemination. Recent studies have shown that the problem could be an underlying immune condition worsening the inflammation. 

High levels of chemicals called cytokines have been found in the fluid covering the gastrointestinal and reproductive organs. These chemicals are released when the immune system makes an attempt to ‘fix' a problem detected when the endometrial tissues get displaced. These chemicals not only affect your fertility but also the health of embryos. 

Unhealthy eggs will unlikely be fertilized even after meeting with a sperm. Studies in baboons showed a significant improvement in Endometriosis-related infertility after the animals were given anti-inflammatory treatment. So now the focus is mainly placed in anti-inflammatory drugs it comes to treating the condition.

Another important thing every woman should know is to improve their outlook on life. When the body is under stress, more of positive ions are released, further increasing hormonal imbalance and inflammation. Experts have agreed that a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and a positive outlook significantly reduces the effects and symptoms of Endometriosis. 

The healing process may be a long and tiresome journey but your positive attitude will do a lot in the recovery process. Here are some things you can do to alleviate stress

  • Engage in your favorite hobby
  • Have fun with friends
  • Keep a diary
  • Exercise, take a walk and enjoy the wild scenery and anything that can help you appreciate nature.

1  Here's What You Need to Know

Studies have shown that about 21-44% of infertile women have Endometriosis and 4-22% of fertile women have been diagnosed with the condition. The situation is not hopeless at all since there are other methods of conceiving like artificial insemination. Recent studies have shown that the problem could be an underlying immune condition worsening the inflammation. 

High levels of chemicals called cytokines have been found in the fluid covering the gastrointestinal and reproductive organs. These chemicals are released when the immune system makes an attempt to ‘fix' a problem detected when the endometrial tissues get displaced. These chemicals not only affect your fertility but also the health of embryos. 

Unhealthy eggs will unlikely be fertilized even after meeting with a sperm. Studies in baboons showed a significant improvement in Endometriosis-related infertility after the animals were given anti-inflammatory treatment. So now the focus is mainly placed in anti-inflammatory drugs it comes to treating the condition.

Another important thing every woman should know is to improve their outlook on life. When the body is under stress, more of positive ions are released, further increasing hormonal imbalance and inflammation. Experts have agreed that a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and a positive outlook significantly reduces the effects and symptoms of Endometriosis. 

The healing process may be a long and tiresome journey but your positive attitude will do a lot in the recovery process. Here are some things you can do to alleviate stress

  • Engage in your favorite hobby
  • Have fun with friends
  • Keep a diary
  • Exercise, take a walk and enjoy the wild scenery and anything that can help you appreciate nature.

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