@drraelialew (CREI Fertility Specialist & Gynaecologist)
Did you know that March is Endometriosis Awareness Month? We are extremely lucky to have Dr Raelia Lew share her extensive knowledge with us in a bid to raise awareness and increase education about a disease that affects so many women. Skindepth is particularly passionate about Endometriosis awareness as it’s a condition that impacts some of their staff 1st hand.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects one in ten women of reproductive age. There are a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms, and this can make endometriosis challenging to diagnose.
Endometriosis can progress over time to cause symptoms of pain, internal scarring and infertility.
Genes do play a role in endometriosis. If a woman’s mother or sister is diagnosed with endometriosis, her chance of having it also is seven times more likely than the average woman. However, there is not an “endometriosis gene” that you either have or not. The genetic inheritance of endometriosis is complex, involving the interplay of many genes as well as environmental factors.
Endometriosis physically also can have many forms. Under the microscope, it looks like tissue similar to a womb’s natural lining, known as the endometrium.
When tissue like this occurs in the womb and sheds with a woman’s period, that’s normal. When it occurs on the peritoneum (skin lining the pelvis), on the ovaries forming cysts (endometriomas) or in the ligaments of the pelvis, bladder or bowel (forming nodules) this is abnormal and termed endometriosis.
Areas of endometriosis can be sensitive and cause pain, especially around the time of ovulation and menstruation. Furthermore, inflammation caused by endometriosis can cause scarring and pain with intercourse.
So what’s the good news? We now know a lot more about endometriosis and how to manage it. The best thing you can do if you think you may have endometriosis is to see a gynaecologist or infertility specialist and confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes endometriosis can be suppressed with hormonal medications. For some women, treatment via key hole laparoscopic surgery is needed. Every woman’s set of circumstances and treatment goals are unique and a tailored approach is needed.
There are lifestyle interventions that can help many women with endometriosis to lead their best life, like following an anti-inflammatory diet.
For some women, fertility preservation options like freezing a good number of still-healthy eggs at a younger age may help to achieve her fertility goals long term.