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Dr Kelly Loi of the HEALTH & FERTILITY CENTRE FOR WOMEN discusses endometriosis, an infertility-causing health issue all females should be aware of.
Endometriosis is a condition when the tissue that normally lines the womb – the endometrium – occurs outside the womb.
For example, it could occur at the back of the womb and around the ovaries. The tissue induces an inflammatory reaction causing menstrual pain and infertility. Around one in 10 women suffers from endometriosis during their reproductive years. With time, it leads to the formation of ovarian cysts, severely painful periods, pain during or after sexual intercourse and infertility, impacting a woman’s physical and social well being.
Recently, data from the Global Study of Women’s Health, published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, found that endometriosis can have a significant impact on the quality of life and work productivity across different nations and ethnicities.
Endometriosis clearly impairs quality of life and work productivity regardless of what country or ethnicity you belong to, yet women continue to experience diagnostic delays in primary care. A higher index of care is therefore needed to expedite specialist assessment of symptomatic women. A lack of awareness, combined with a perception of how the above mentioned symptoms are what females generally experience as part of womanhood, often contributes to a delay in endometriosis being diagnosed and treated.
Surgery can be effective for removing endometriotic lesions, cysts and scar tissue, but the disease tends to recur and worsen with time. Surgery can usually be performed via laparoscopy or keyhole approach which involves making a small incision in the belly button to allow passage for a fi ne telescopic device. Women keen on pregnancy should try to conceive as early as possible after surgical treatment and for those who are not keen on pregnancy, hormone medication can help to control endometriosis. Current therapy options include hormone pills and injections.
However, the best treatment options for a patient ultimately depends on the severity of her symptoms or desire for fertility in the future. This is why it is important you consult your doctor who can assess your case and advise on the next steps and treatment options to seek.
Dr Kelly Loi Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist