March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and because this painful disorder affects so many women we wanted to reach out to someone who could provide us with answers to all the important questions. Dr. Jane Frederick, an internationally noted fertility reproductive endocrinologist, was kind enough to sit down for an interview with us. She provided so much useful information from what the disorder really is to how to minimize its effects if you are living with it.
Everything to Know About Endometriosis- An Interview with Dr. Jane Frederick
We asked Dr. Frederick all the “big questions” and are summarizing all the information she passed onto us right here for you.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is abnormal growth cells similar to the ones that grow inside the uterus. However, these cells grow on organs outside the uterus. They are found in the Fallopian tubes, bowel, and ovaries.
While there is no exact cause, it does run in families- mom, sisters, aunts. It is also more commonly found with women who suffer from infertility.
What is actually going on in your body when you have endometriosis?
Because the cells that are supposed to grow in your uterus, are growing on other pelvic organs tissue scarring and adhesions may occur. This tissue also can distort normal anatomical functions.
What symptoms should women look for? What are the first signs of Endometriosis?
This is tricky because most women actually don’t have symptoms. Some patients will experience pelvic pain during ovulation or menstruation, but this sometimes happens to normal patients as well. This makes it hard for someone to know if they have it.
Dr. Frederick says some women may even be on their fourth pregnancy and have shown zero symptoms, then go in for a c-section and the doctors may realize that she has Endometriosis.
How do you get a diagnosis then?
A diagnosis is only suspected by taking a look at a patient’s family medical history along with a pattern of symptoms. A definitive diagnosis, however, is only confirmed by surgery.
Is Endometriosis hereditary? How do you get it?
There is no exact cause for Endometriosis. Like we stated above, though, it does run in families. You will see families in which mom, sisters, and aunts have Endometriosis.
Endometriosis does sometimes affect infertility. In fact, 20-50% of infertility patients suffer from the disorder. Endometriosis affects the production of hormones, fertilization of an egg, and number of eggs available to fertilize.
On the other side of this, Dr. Frederick shared with us that she has seen patients on their 4th kid who never experienced infertility or pelvic pain have it as well. It is important to keep in mind the severity of the disease does not equate to fertility.
Proactive Ways to Avoid or Minimize Effects
A Mediterranean diet has shown to help with Endometriosis along with other fertility issues. This diet allows you to get the proper carbs, fats, and proteins needed to function optimally. It is also super important to make sure you are staying hydrated.
Acupuncture (as an adjunct to medical treatments) can also be very helpful. It helps relieve pain while also helping patients relax so normal hormone functions can take place. This being said, acupuncture is actually good for all patients struggling with infertility. Basically, hormones don’t work right when stressed!
- There are medications available to suppress endometriosis cells
- Birth control can also be very effective and help with pain
- Surgical treatment is also available. The doctor goes in with a small telescope that allows them to visualize the area. The doctor can go in with a laser and minimize damage by debulking or taking out the abnormal growth. This type of surgery can, in some instances, help a patient conceive.
- Acupuncture also works as an adjunct to medical treatments
- Some women with Endometriosis could need IVF to conceive. The good news is that there is a very high success rate for IVF, so even with severe cases of Endometriosis, you can still get pregnant. A good specialist, like Dr. Frederick, can bypass scarred tubes and help eggs become an embryo.
What would you say to a woman who just found out she has endometriosis? What should her first steps be?
First things first, seek out a specialist. Here are some things you will want to look for.
- You will want to look for one that has proven success with Endometriosis patients.
- Be sure to check the doctor you choose is covered by insurance and are local.
- Check out their bio and see if they are board-certified in reproductive infertility endocrinology.
- You do not want to see just an average OB/GYN in this case.
- Also, be sure to check out their Yelp reviews and see what other women have thought!
Dr. Frederick has over 30 years experience, this is something extremely important to consider when looking for a specialist of your own. She is located in Orange County, CA, so all our SoCal mamas with endometriosis should check her out! You can set up an appointment with her here or check her out on Instagram for further information. We loved being able to chat with her and hope this has helped to give you a greater understanding of endometriosis.