By Sola Ogundipe
CORRECT and prompt diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis – a disorder which affects women in their reproductive years has been identified as a significant factor in the treatment of female infertility.
A clinical gynaecologist and fertility expert, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi who gave this indication in Lagos last week, said Nigerian medical practitioners need to begin to take cognisance of the problem of endometriosis and its role in gynaecological problems.
Ajayi who is Medical Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos and Asaba, spoke on the occasion of this yearâ€™s Endometriosis month of March,
Hesaid as a contributor to the problem of unexplained infertility and chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis deserved more attention than it was currently getting within medical circles in the country.
â€œEndometriosis is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, yet it is treatable and preventable, but the pain it causes is worse than than a painful toothache.
â€œThe diagnosis is made worse in Nigeria because we are told it is not common amongst blacks. But there is need to let the women who suffer this disorder that no matter the pain they are feeling, they are not alone.â€
Ajayi regretted that the exact prevalence of endometriosis in Nigeria is not known, since many women may have the condition and have no symptoms, but noted that most are diagnosed i around the age of 25-35 years, and it has been reported in girls as young as 11 years of age. â€œIt is rare in postmenopausal women. It runs in families and delaying pregnancy until an older age is also believed to increase the risk of developing endometriosis.â€
Revealing that about 300 cases of the disorder had been diagnosed and treated at Nordica Lagos and Asaba over the years, he described the prevention of endometriosis as a challenge, especially in terms of the availability of equipment and training of doctors to recognise it.â€.
Revealing that 15-20 per cent of couples with problem of infertility have endometriosis, he said as a result of its genetic nature, it is common amongst sisters and even cousins,
â€œMost women who have it, do not have symptoms. Of those who do experience symptoms, the common symptoms are pain (usually pelvic) and infertility. It can be one of the reasons for infertility in otherwise healthy couples.
â€œEndometriosis is often misdiagnosed leading to delays in treatment, sometimes for several years. The surest way to diagnose endometriosis is by laparoscopy, an operation performed under general anaesthetic, where a small instrument called a laparoscope (a tubelike telescope with light in it), is inserted into the abdomen through a cut in the belly button. The goals of endometriosis treatment may include pain relief and/or enhancement of fertility.
â€œEndometriosis is commonly found in women with infertility challenges as the endometrial cells can grow in more than one location. When a woman with the disease has her monthly period, the blood and tissue shed from the endometrial growth has no way of leaving the body, hence resulting in internal bleeding, inflammation that may result in pain, adhesions and bowel problemsâ€.
Endometriosis also causes damage and blockage to the fallopian tube by impeding the journey of the eggs down the fallopian tube to the uterus, hence leading to infertility.
â€œWomen who suffer from this incurable disease could still experience the joy that comes from birthing a child through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).