With March being endometriosis awareness month, and as a long term sufferer of this debilitating condition, I wanted to know more and turned to the fantastic Michael Kiriakidis MD, MS at Embryolab to explain exactly what it is.
Ever since its microscopic unveiling in 1860 and despite numerous medical studies and reports, endometriosis remains to this day one of the most perplexing and enigmatic gynecological diseases
In simple terms, endometriosis is a chronic and progressive condition where endometrial cells normally found inside the uterus have lodged in other parts of the body. This, not so rare, problem affects mostly women of reproductive age and one of the most common signs of endometriosis is infertility.
Endometriosis can be a debilitating condition, posing significant quality-of-life issues for the woman and can affect areas such as work, family relationships and self-esteem
A unifying theory regarding the origin of endometriosis has remained mystifyingly elusive and several theories have been proposed, although this is not the purpose of this article. Although its connection with infertility is well-established, increasing evidence supports the conceptualization of endometriosis as a pelvic inflammatory condition. The pelvic microenvironment in the setting of endometriosis is notably rich in substances and mediators likely to play a central role in the sequel of pain and infertility.
There is compelling evidence in the literature that endometriosis has detrimental effects on ovarian and tubal function and uterine receptivity, resulting in female infertility
The mechanisms of infertility associated with endometriosis remain controversial and include abnormal egg-development, elevated oxidative stress, altered immune function, and hormonal milieu in the follicular and peritoneal environments, and reduced endometrial receptivity. These factors lead to poor oocyte quality, impaired fertilisation, and implantation.
But how is it that some women with endometriosis have children and others struggle?
This question is still puzzling reproductive doctors and embryologists. And the most obvious and probable answer is time. The duration of effect of endometriosis could explain why some women have children and later on learn about the presence of endometriosis and others initially diagnosed with this problem undergo several years and rounds of IVF trying to overcome this difficulty.
At Embryolab we have several examples of couples achieving their goal despite their endometriosis problem.
The key to success lies with personalized and holistic treatment. It is obvious that every woman has special needs, according to her history, and thus needs a different approach. Modern protocols and laboratory techniques can help couples fulfill their dream.
Endometriosis is a multi-faceted problem and as such requires a holistic approach. Several reports have connected the disease with dietary choices and nutritional characteristics. On one hand, risk factors that increase the risk of endometriosis include consumption of products rich in trans-unsaturated fatty acids, consumption of fats generally, and consumption of beef and other kinds of red meat and alcohol.
However, nutrition is a potentially modifiable risk factor. Fruits and vegetables, fish oils, dairy products rich in calcium and vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids are likely connected with a lower risk of developing endometriosis. This leads to a better quality of life and lower impact on reproduction.
It becomes apparent that endometriosis should not be taken light-hearted. Couples have several treatment options that focus on specific aspects of the disease. Our experience in Embryolab has shown that personalised treatment including segmentation or down-regulation can benefit women with endometriosis. On the other hand, extended culture of the embryos in a specialized time-lapse incubator could provide the best possible conditions for development in cases where endometriosis has had an impact on the embryos.
Endometriosis remains to this day a puzzling and frustrating problem
Every day, new information is added to an invaluable reservoir of knowledge that may reveal essential new insights about this disorder. It is important for every woman and couple to understand that several options are available to overcome this difficulty. They are not alone in their effort to fulfil their dream. At Embryolab we care.