By Sola Ogundipe
No less than 621 medical experts from Nigeria and several other countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia have advocated for better management of infertility in patients suffering from Endometriosis, a gynaecological disorder that affects millions of women of childbearing age across the world.
Endometriosis is a very common debilitating disease that occurs in about 10 percent of the general female population, causing pain and infertility. Findings show that up to 50 percent of infertile women have endometriosis, while 30 to 50 of women with endometriosis are infertile.
The experts who gathered at a continuous professional development webinar to learn how to tackle the disorder among infertile couples, argued for intensified training of doctors to equip them with the skills to diagnose and treat endometriosis.
Speaking at the forum themed: “All you need to know about endometriosis in infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)”, a co-founder of the African Endometriosis Awareness and Support Group, Dr Abayomi Ajayi, remarked that a way to tackle endometriosis is by ensuring that doctors are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to properly diagnose and manage the malady.
Lamenting that very few hospitals have the right equipment for endometriosis in Nigeria, Ajayi said more doctors were being trained and encouraged to share their experiences on endometriosis.
“We have doctors whose main specialisation is endometriosis in adolescents. We have reached the stage and that is why we should be looking for endometriosis in adolescents. It is complex because many people do not understand and that is why we are expanding the knowledge to other physicians to arouse their interest.”
In his presentation titled “Endometriosis and Infertility: The Role of ART”, Ajayi, who is Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Lagos, stressed the importance of assisted reproduction in managing infertility in women who suffer from endometriosis.
Ajayi said: “Endometriosis can only be truly diagnosed by a doctor performing a laparoscopy, which is a surgery where a doctor looks in the abdomen with a camera usually through the belly button, and taking a sample of a suspected endometriosis lesion.
“In women without symptoms who are having surgery for elective sterilisation, that is, having their tubes tied, 1-7 percent will actually have endometriosis diagnosed at the time of their surgery, as will 12-32 per cent of women having surgery for pelvic pain, and up to 50 percent of women having surgery for infertility.
“Endometriosis is rarely found in girls before they start their period, but it is found in up to half of young girls and teens with pelvic pain and painful periods.
He said endometriosis cannot be diagnosed by improvement in symptoms with medication alone. “Some physicians and patients may try to treat suspected endometriosis with certain medications to see if symptoms are improved without having to undergo surgery.
Also speaking at the physicians’ roundtable, Dr Prakash Trivedi, a Consultant Gynaecologist and pioneer of hysteroscopic surgery and laparoscopic suturing 3D Light in Asia harped on the essence of promoting knowledge for the management of endometriosis.
“Endometriosis is a disease which is a subject of the disease of the Millennium. Endometriosis affects women in their prime years; more than 64 percent are below 64 years of age.
“Management of endometriosis starts much early, but we are not always in a hurry to operate on young patients because if you operate at 19, there might be a recurrence at 23. So you have to be very concerned about when you will operate on an adolescent for this complication.”
The webinar was organised by Nordica Fertility Centre, an assisted reproduction service provider with a history of managing patients with endometriosis, and Intas Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
Among specialists that participated in the webinar were obstetrician-gynaecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, pain management specialists, and mental health professionals among others.