Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissues that normally line the inside of the womb (endometrium) start to grow outside of the womb lining. This tissue can grow in virtually any part of the body but is most commonly found on the inner wall of the abdomen and pelvis, the outside of the womb, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and intestines.
Endometriosis and Fertility
It is estimated that 1 in 10 women are suffering from endometriosis and unfortunately many remain undiagnosed. Whilst it is most common in women around their reproductive age, it can occur from their first period and after menopause. Although some people may not even be aware they have endometriosis and it may only be found by chance during an operation for some other condition. Many who do have it suffer symptoms including pain, cysts, nodules, adhesions, bleeding and infertility.
Unfortunately women who have endometriosis have a lower chance of conceiving both naturally and by IVF even when the fallopian tubes are not affected. It is thought that 5-15% of infertility problems are due to endometriosis, and up to 40% of women affected by endometriosis struggle with infertility; so during the course of my work, I speak to a lot of women who have to deal with it.
There are a number of methods for relieving the symptoms of endometriosis, and these can include surgical intervention or medications but as of yet, there is no way to completely cure it. Treatment of endometriosis in women actively trying for a pregnancy can raise problems for specialists as most of the medicines used for treatment of endometriosis either prevent or are not appropriate during pregnancy. Pregnancy has been known to offer some relief from the pains of endometriosis because it stops the bleeding into the abdomen and pelvis from the deposits and so some women may choose to try for pregnancy prior to having treatment for their endometriosis.
The Problem with Diagnosis
One of the main issues with endometriosis is in its diagnosis. It is a very varied condition, sharing symptoms with many other health conditions which makes it difficult for clinicians to diagnose. Another problem is that endometrial symptoms are often simply attributed to particularly bad periods and in fact, it takes on average 6 to 10 years just for endometriosis to be confirmed.
Until now, laparoscopic surgery has been the only way to determine whether a patient has endometriosis. This is an invasive procedure and can be expensive, which is far from ideal for such an already tricky condition to diagnose and preavlent condition. DotLab is a personalised medicine company for women’s health and has recently announced the invention of a non-invasive saliva test for endometriosis; this could be a ground-breaking development for the future and it might be released as early as by the end of this year. Data developed on the DotEndo test, which uses biomarkers as a signal of endometriosis, is looking highly accurate and promising. This test could provide the opportunity for early diagnosis allowing therapy to reduce its effect, and even early surgery to remove the spreading tissue to bring patients closer to a cure than has been previously possible and potentially reducing the amount of pain and trouble women experience due to this condition. It could even reduce the effect endometriosis has on infertility!
For more information on endometriosis please see our series of videos on the subject here, explained by one of our top consultants, or feel free to contact me on 0333 2340895 (local call charges) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Scott, Patient and Clinic Liaison Manager
*subject to acceptance on our plan