Building Awareness During National Endometriosis Awareness Month

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Fertility Centers of Illinois Spotlights Connection Between Infertility and Endometriosis

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Dr. John J. Rapisarda of Fertility Centers of Illinois

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women in the U.S. and millions across the globe. Approximately 35 to 50 percent of women with infertility also have endometriosis.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic disease that affects at least 6.3 million women in the U.S. and millions across the globe. Approximately 35 to 50 percent of women with infertility also have endometriosis. Building awareness of this disease is critical in aiding effective diagnoses and infertility treatment.

Each month when women menstruate, they shed the endometrial lining found in their uterus. When the endometrial tissue normally found in the uterus grows outside the uterus and in other places of the body, it is known as endometriosis.

Endometrial growths have been found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, on the outside of the uterus, lining the pelvic cavity and between the vagina and rectum. While rare, growths have also been found in the arm, thigh and lung. Each month, endometrial tissue continues to break down and shed as it would during a normal menstrual cycle. Without the ability to drain from the body as it would in normal menstruation, inflammation and pain result.

Endometriosis affects fertility, bowel function, gynecological health and most importantly, quality of life. The cause of endometriosis remains unknown, as does a permanent cure. Research continues to focus on establishing the underlying cause, genetic patterns and refined treatment options.

Doctors are now able to alleviate symptoms as well as increase fertility once a diagnosis has been determined.

Common symptoms:

  •     Painful menstruation
  •     Pain during sexual activity
  •     Painful urination or bowel movements during menstruation
  •     Infertility
  •     Fatigue
  •     Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, constipation and diarrhea
  •     Recurrent yeast infections
  •     Chemical sensitivities
  •     Allergies

Scarring and adhesions from endometriosis can restrict movement of the ovaries, change the position of the fallopian tubes and ovaries as well as block the fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can also increase production of prostaglandins, hormones that affect fertility.

To improve fertility, doctors can surgically remove adhesions and scar tissue in the female reproductive system. Surgical options are not always necessary to achieve pregnancy, however. Stimulation of the ovaries with fertility medications and in vitro fertilization will often overcome the impact of endometriosis on fertility. IVF allows doctors to bypass any damaged tissue due to endometriosis.

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of women with endometriosis conceive and not all individuals with endometriosis are infertile. I have treated hundreds of patients who have overcome infertility due to endometriosis and have had happy, healthy children. Rest assured, many of us in the field of reproductive medicine are working tirelessly to increase success rates through scientific study and further advancement in technique.

John J. Rapisarda, M.D.
Reproductive Endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois

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Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation's leading fertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 11 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world. FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Naperville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Orland Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs.

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