Reproductive medicine can provide these women with a suitable solution for fertility problems with high success rates. Oocyte vitrification offers the best guarantee to achieve the dream of having a baby in the future, also for those women who are to undergo surgery that may compromise fertility or for those who simply wish to delay motherhood. In fact, over the last ten years, more than 8,500 women have attended IVI with fertility problems caused by endometriosis, representing more than 10% of patients.
According to Dr Juan Antonio García Velasco, Director of IVI Madrid, the clinical approach for endometriosis is currently changing: “There have been no advances in the treatment of endometriosis in the last 20 years, there is still no cure. The difference is that now the diagnosis and treatments are more practical and that helps improve quality of life in women with endometriosis”.
“Before, it could take up to six years to give a diagnosis of the disease and few doctors would treat it”, he assures. Indeed, the average age of diagnosis is 27 and it is estimated that 70% of women suffering from endometriosis received a wrong diagnosis. The lack of information and social awareness of this problem make those women feel alone and misunderstood.
In response to this, IVI has developed Specialist Endometriosis Units within its clinics. The correct diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, both medically and psychologically, may lead to significant benefits since patients usually feel supported and get the help they need.
Dr García Velasco affirms, “there are only few doctors specialised in the surgical removal of endometriosis. Many women, for the fear of surgery, prefer to manage the pain with medication but, sometimes, the best option is a correctly performed surgery”. For this reason, he states “centres of reference should be set up for this condition, with skilled radiologists to detect it, excellent surgeons to perform surgeries and a team of psychologists to help patients in pain and improve their quality of life”.
The endometriosis is a chronic illness characterised by endometrial tissue growing –the endometrium is the inner lining of the uterus that is lost during the menstruation–outside the uterus, inside the fallopian tubes and within the pelvis. During the menstrual cycles, the tissue may cause pelvic bleeding that, when persists, can also lead to adhesions responsible for the pain and fertility problems.
The importance of a good diagnosis
Endometriosis is a chronic condition, therefore early diagnosis and correct treatment are crucial. As the condition can get worse over time, it is important to provide patients with accurate information and advise not to delay having children. Although depending on the age and clinical history, spontaneous pregnancy rates are less than 2% per month in moderate to severe endometriosis (and between 2 and 4.5 % in mild endometriosis), markedly lower than the 20% chance in women that do not suffer from this disease.
For patients with greater symptoms, pain relief medication is recommended and, if necessary, pelvic surgery to remove lesions; there are cases, though, in which a portion of the ovaries is removed or even the whole ovaries, increasing the risk of impaired fertility.