Did you know that approximately 10% of women of reproductive age suffer from endometriosis? Endometriosis is a chronic condition where tissue called endometrium grows outside of the uterus instead of inside it. This can cause damage to surrounding organs such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus. This tissue becomes inflamed and bleeds, just like uterine tissue, during a woman’s menstrual cycle. This can contribute to intense pelvic pain, heavy periods, and bleeding between periods.
If untreated, endometriosis symptoms can worsen significantly and other complications may develop. Over time, endometriosis tissue will grow and adhere to surrounding tissue in the pelvic region. Depending on the region of adhesion, different symptoms may develop.
Here are some common complications that may occur if endometriosis is left untreated:
- Chronic pelvic pain
Pelvic pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of endometriosis. When untreated, this pain can become chronic as the tissue adheres to surrounding structures or forms cysts.
- Bowel and bladder issues
Endometrial tissue has the potential to grow and adhere to the bladder, intestines, and rectum. This can contribute to pain and difficulty urinating or having bowel movements.
- Chronic inflammation
Endometrial tissue secretes inflammatory chemicals that can cause inflammation throughout the body. When untreated, this inflammation may become chronic and contribute to other health issues.
Approximately 50% of women with endometriosis will struggle with infertility or reduced fertility. This is due to adhesions of endometrial tissue to the ovaries, the uterus, or the fallopian tubes affecting egg production, egg fertilization, or egg transport.
- Childbirth issues
In cases when endometriosis doesn’t affect fertility, it can disrupt childbirth. Many studies have shown that women with endometriosis have a higher risk of preterm birth, pregnancy loss, and low-weight infants.1
Endometriosis can develop into a debilitatingly painful condition that poses a threat to your fertility and proper organ functioning. Thus, it is important to discuss with your OBGYN the treatment options available if you are suffering from this condition.
If you suspect you could have endometriosis and want to know about your treatment options, contact Dr. Pinto for guidance today!
Dr. Anil Pinto is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and the subspecialty of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Pinto has a special interest in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), recurrent pregnancy loss, and advanced reproductive technologies, such as IVF.