One in ten women affected by endometriosis during their reproductive years

It’s important to talk to your provider about symptoms, especially any pain you experience.
It’s important to talk to your provider about symptoms, especially any pain you experience.

Amy Metzer, CNM, MSN

Despite the fact that endometriosis is a relatively common condition affecting an estimated 176 million women worldwide, there is a surprising lack of awareness about its symptoms, impact and management.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus develops outside the uterus. However, while the tissue that builds up within the uterus is shed from the body during menstruation, there is no place for the tissue outside the uterus to go, which may result in inflammation, pain, scar tissue and adhesions on other organs, infertility and bowel problems.

Because some pain or discomfort during menstruation is relatively common, many women may chalk up what they feel as “normal” period pain, when in fact it is a sign of endometriosis. That’s why it’s important to talk to your provider about symptoms, especially any pain you experience.

In addition to pain during menstruation, symptoms of endometriosis may also include:

  • heavy bleeding
  • pain during ovulation
  • pain during or after sex
  • chronic pelvic pain
  • pain during urination or bowel movements during menstruation
  • difficulty getting pregnant

Endometriosis impacts a woman’s physical health, as well as her mental and social well-being. We can help you manage your symptoms.

Treatment options may include medications to manage symptoms, or surgery to remove scar tissue and adhesions. Pregnancy may relieve symptoms of endometriosis, but they typically return after childbirth.

We work closely with all of our patients who have endometriosis to develop a care plan based on their unique situations and goals. For example, the treatment for a woman who wants to have children versus one who does not or who is finished having children can be quite different. The severity of symptoms can also vary tremendously, and may change over time, so regular exams and discussions help to ensure you benefit from the most effective treatment.

If you have symptoms of endometriosis or need help managing this condition, call us for an appointment.

Preparing for pregnancy: 5 health and family considerations

Preparation can help set the stage for a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

Dr. Jacqueline S. Kates

Thinking about having a baby? A little preparation goes a long way in setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy. Before you start trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to talk to your women’s health provider about your health and risk factors.

Consider these five key health questions:

  1. Are you in good general health? Levels of fitness, nutrition and stress can affect fertility and a healthy pregnancy. It’s worth taking time to address these issues in advance, making lifestyle changes such as exercising, following a healthy diet rich in folic acid and other important nutrients, and catching up on missed immunizations.
  2. Do you have any pre-existing conditions that may lead to a complicated pregnancy? Conditions like asthma, depression/anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure and others can affect pregnancy. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get pregnant, but we can help you have a plan in place before conception for how best to manage these conditions during pregnancy.
  3. What unhealthy habits need to be kicked? Smoking and tobacco use, alcohol consumption and drug use should be stopped before trying to get pregnant. In addition to affecting the fertility of both men and women, these things have a serious impact on a developing pregnancy. It may be challenging to quit once you’re pregnant, so it’s best to do it in advance. Talk to us for support and strategies.
  4. What prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements are you taking? Again, some medications can affect fertility, so we may need to make changes before you start trying to conceive. Also, some medications and supplements can be harmful during pregnancy, so we’ll work with you to either wean you off medications or transition you to something else.
  5. Are there any red flags in your family medical history? Certain genetic conditions run in families. We can test for some conditions in advance so you’ll know your risk level before getting pregnant, or develop a plan for testing during pregnancy.

In addition to health issues, consider big picture questions as well. Babies are amazing, and they can also be all-consuming, especially in the early years. Ask yourself the hard questions. Are you ready to make lifestyle changes necessary to be a parent? Are you financially able to care for a child? Do you have the support you need from a partner or others? What impact do you expect a child to have on your home life, career and family?

When you are ready to start trying to conceive, call us for an appointment. We’ll work with you to a personalized care plan.

Fertility Facts & Fiction

Dr. Jacqueline Kates
Dr. Jacqueline Kates

What really helps to boost fertility

Dr. Jacqueline Kates, obstetrician/gynecologist

We’ve all heard some of the many “tricks” to help women get pregnant. But what really works?

Both female and male fertility is affected by a wide range of factors, including medical history, current health, age, family history, medications and environmental factors. Some women become pregnant as soon as they start trying, while others take longer or experience difficulties.

Here are a few things that may help:

  • Check your weight. Being overweight or underweight can affect the fertility of both men and women. Talk to your health care provider about your ideal weight, and steps you can take to try to achieve it.
  • Stop smoking. While everyone knows that smoking – including tobacco and marijuana – during pregnancy may be harmful to both mom and baby, many don’t realize it can also affect fertility in both women and men.
  • Learn more. You and your partner should talk candidly with your health providers about your desire to conceive, and any concerns you have. Be honest about your health and your use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and any medications that might play a role in your fertility or ability to have a healthy pregnancy. Some medications, vaginal lubricants, or exposure to chemicals can decrease fertility in both women and men.

 

Before trying to conceive, talk to your health care provider to address any concerns and discuss how to optimize your health.

Our doctors and nurse-midwives are welcoming new patients in our Springfield and Westfield locations. Book online or call us at (413) 562-8306 for our Westfield office, or (413) 736-9978 for Springfield.