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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Have you ever been told pregnancy is a cure for endometriosis?

Chances are if you’re a woman with endometriosis at some point you’ve been told that getting pregnant will cure your endo. Well not only is this an incredibly insensitive thing to suggest to a woman with endometriosis, as women with endo often have problems conceiving, but bringing a child into the world should be a mutual expression of love between a woman and her partner, not a quick fix for a disease. But perhaps the most important fact in all this is that getting pregnant simply isn’t a cure for endometriosis, there is no cure for endometriosis. It’s true that pregnancy may provide a temporary relief from endo symptoms, maybe for a few months, maybe for years, but a permanent cure? Don’t be fooled.

I’m not just voicing opinion here either, I know of several cases where the symptoms of endometriosis have returned after pregnancy. Additionally, a recent article published in the journal Fertility and Sterility reported a study from Japan which found that rates of ovarian endometriosis during pregnancy have actually increased and, in fact, nearly quadrupled.
The facts were these; during the period from 1996-2001 the incidence of ovarian endometriosis was 0.14%, or 5 cases of ovarian endometriosis out of 3558 deliveries. This rose sharply during the period of 2002-2007 to 0.52%, or 19 cases out of 3599.

Now although these incidence rates are fairly low, the mere existence of these statistics indicates quite clearly that the assumption ‘pregnancy cures endometriosis’ is a false one.
A link to the article in question is provided here

2 comments:

  1. Dear Matt,

    By the time I am done writing to your blog posts, I'm sure you are going to be sick of seeing my name! But I loved this post and wanted to show it some love in return!

    I have been fighting the endo battle since I was 12. The first time I heard the theory "Well pregnancy would help you with your menstrual cramping" (I hadn't gotten a diagnosis of endo yet despite complaining), I was 17 years old. To tell a 17 year old to get pregnant, and to say in the next breath "but it's unlikely due to uterine scarring" I find to be irresponsible on the part of the doctors.

    I lost my first pregnancy at 19 when I was 6 months along. The placenta tore apart from the uterine wall (placenta abruptia). Little did I know that this would be the start of my infertility journey.

    I was diagnosed with stage 4 endo at the age of 23. I had survived having at least 7 early miscarriages before finally conceiving my darling son who will be 6 at the end of this year. Along my way, I kept hearing "get pregnant". One doctor said a particularly hurtful thing 'If you were married I would tell you to get pregnant, but since you aren't how about a hysterectomy?" as though my relationship status had anything to do with bringing a child into this world. It was also very painful to hear "get pregnant" over and over again when I went through loss after loss.

    My endo symptoms continued during my first pregnancy. I still had a lot of pain and had significant bowel issues. I went in for my second lap 3 months after my son was born and they found stage 4 endo as well as stage 1A uterine cancer.

    To make a long story short, I wanted to have another baby so I refused a hysterectomy since the cancer was in such an early stage. I went through a variety of different treatments, including Danazol, repeat D&Cs, and Arimidex to rid myself of estrogen and keep the endometrium as thinned out as possible. I am now 6 months pregnant with my second miracle.

    I'm not sure if you are aware but there was a recent study completed on the topic of endometriosis and pregnancy which has suggested that endo patients need to be monitored carefully during their pregnancies as they are at a higher risk of preterm labour. They are also more prone to certain complications, such as ante-partum bleeding. i have had friends who have delivered their children early, as early as 27 weeks and spent months in the NICU. I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone. I find it apalling that doctors will still recommend getting pregnant as a "cure" in light of these potential complications.

    Take care,
    Melissa

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