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The invisible illness: Endometriosis

This content is sponsored by The Center for Innovative GYN Care

Overcoming the “You Don’t Look Sick!” stigma

The invisible disease, endometriosis, affects millions of women. It is invisible because there are no outward indications that a woman is affected by the condition. The primary symptom of endometriosis is searing pelvic pain that often occurs or gets worse with a woman’s menstrual cycle. For some women, as the disease progresses, the pain can be constant.

Many women’s health professionals can be mystified by the arbitrary nature of the disease.

  • It runs in some families, but not in all.
  • Some women experience severe pain.
  • Some women experience abdominal bloating.
  • Pregnancy may help temporarily relieve the symptoms for one woman, while another woman cannot get pregnant because endometriosis has ravaged her womb.
  • It primarily affects the pelvis, but lesions can spread to almost any area of the body.

Endometriosis causes inflammation and scarring in the pelvic cavity. It is often confused as monthly cramping, and therefore is overwhelmingly dismissed even within many doctor’s offices. Endometriosis is actually a disease apart from monthly period pain, and one that requires a specialist to both diagnose and treat. The longer it takes to get a diagnosis can mean more damage from inflammation and scarring. Due to the condition mimicking other conditions, as well as medical professional’s lack of experience or training, it can take many patients up to 10 years to find a doctor who will be able to deliver a proper endometriosis diagnosis.

FAST FACTS

Endometriosis:

  • is fueled by estrogen.
  • creates lesions primarily within the pelvic cavity which can be very small or grow very large, and be deep within the tissue and affect nerves.
  • has been found in other areas of the body, including the abdominal cavity, and though rare, also the lungs and the brain.
  • lesions must be thoroughly removed to provide relief from the chronic pain, which means they cannot be burned, they must be excised.
  • can cause pelvic adhesions and cysts to develop.

The Personal Impact

The debilitating pain caused by endometriosis can strain relationships. Women with endometriosis are often seen as unreliable. As an invisible condition, it becomes more difficult over time to explain to teachers or bosses why you are unable to attend class for a few days each month or repeatedly need time off of work.

While the disease itself is unpredictable, it is essential for women to have support to minimize the psychological effects and to seek effective surgical treatment. There are organizations that help women with endometriosis with emotional support and provide educational resources. Endometriosis Foundation of America, Endometriosis Research Center, Endo Support and The Endometriosis Network Canada are groups that focus solely on helping women with endometriosis find the right care, offer support networks, and raise funds for research.

Endometriosis Excision is The Gold Standard Treatment

Endometriosis excision removes the instances of endometriosis and requires deep removal of affected tissue to eliminate the potential for regrowth.

“Choosing an endometriosis specialist is essential for getting the right care, because if performed incorrectly, or is not thorough, surgery to remove endometriosis can actually make the condition worse,” said Natalya Danilyants, MD. “This painful condition can interfere with a woman’s quality of life, so when seeking treatment it’s important to know that the surgeon is an expert in laparoscopic endometriosis excision who can ensure proper removal.”

Minimally invasive endometriosis excision performed with DualPortGYN uses just two 5 mm incisions that allow the surgeon to see the entire pelvic cavity for thorough removal as an outpatient procedure. This technique was developed by the specialists at The Center for Innovative GYN Care (CIGC).

“DualPortGYN is truly innovative and different from other procedures because the incisions are tiny and there are only two of them,” said Rupen Baxi, MD. “The incisions are located in the midline of the abdomen and pelvis so you are sparing muscles, blood vessels and nerves. This is very important as it reduces post-operative pain, bleeding or lingering nerve pain. Patients who undergo DualPortGYN procedures are able to move around immediately after surgery, are able to eat and drink, and go home in just a couple of hours after surgery.”

“Why some women develop endometriosis and others do not is a mystery,” said Paul MacKoul, MD. “It is thought to be genetic, but the why hasn’t been determined. That makes it harder for general medical practitioners, including OB/GYNs to diagnose endometriosis early, which is important for minimizing the damage that endometriosis can cause on the reproductive system. Endometriosis specialists have a more complete understanding of the disease, the often seemingly unrelated symptoms, and the damage the disease can cause.”

CIGC is dedicated to providing information and materials for women to help navigate the complicated healthcare system. CIGC minimally invasive GYN surgical specialists Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD and Dr. Natalya Danilyants, MD developed techniques to perform endometriosis removal using only two small incisions. Dr. Rupen Baxi, MD is a minimally invasive GYN specialist at CIGC with extensive fellowship training and a respected speaker and researcher.

Our minimally invasive surgeons have helped women struggling with the pain of endometriosis. As endometriosis progresses, the likelihood of extensive damage to organs in the pelvic cavity increases.

If you are suffering with endometriosis it is important to see a minimally invasive endometriosis specialist for an evaluation. Book a consultation at The Center for Innovative GYN Care or call 888-787-4379.