Endometriosis is a disease that is usually diagnosed too late. Lack of awareness of the symptoms among the female population and the lack of specialists in this specific field of gynaecology contribute to the detrimental effect it has on the quality of life of women with the disease, whether they are aware of their condition or not. The IVI Group is a pioneer in the research of this disease that affects a quarter of its patients. It has established an Endometriosis Unit to speed up diagnosis and treatment to mitigate the consequences of this disease that today affects between 5% and 10% of the female population.
Endometriosis is the appearance and growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, particularly in the pelvic cavity and ovaries, behind the uterus, uterine ligaments, bladder and intestine (although it may occur outside the abdomen, such as in the lungs or other parts of the body). It can cause severe cramps with irregular and heavy bleeding, as well as cysts on the ovaries. This disease affects the quality of life of women with the disease and affects their relationships with partners, family and work as well as reproduction.
Although treatment improves the chances of a future pregnancy, sometimes endometriosis can reduce a woman’s fertility, as this disease is directly related to the decline in the pool and quality of oocytes.
“The most common symptoms of endometriosis are chronic pelvic pain, painful periods, discomfort during sexual intercourse, bleeding after urination and fatigue. Although these complaints may seem obvious when a health problem is suspected, it must be remembered that many of the women with these acute problems attribute them to their menstrual cycle. Women cannot compare their pain against themselves and sometimes believe these symptoms are intrinsic to their gender”, says Dr Manuel Muñoz, director of IVI Alicante.
Despite the progress made in the treatment for pain and infertility, there is as yet no cure for this disease and little is known about its causes. It affects a very high percentage of women, can be hereditary and is usually diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35, even though it begins to develop with the start of regular menstruation. Sometimes, the woman may have had the disease for 5 to 10 years before the first symptoms are detected, “an excessively long period of time, during which the disease progresses; leading to very damaging consequences for the quality of life of those who suffer it, and bringing with it serious medical problems, such as infertility”, explains Dr Muñoz.