SHAVERTOWN, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. The goal is to shed light on a disorder affecting more than 5 million American women whose symptoms can include severe pain and even infertility.
Endometriosis is among the top three causes of pelvic pain and infertility in women. We take a close look at this condition and how getting the right diagnosis and treatment are so critical.
As mom to 3 and a half year-old Nicholas and 9-month old Gavin, Melissa Sonday has her hands full. The 31-year-old Luzerne woman wasn’t sure she’d ever have children because of a physical problem she first experienced as a teen. “It was just so painful to do anything especially during my menstrual cycle. It would get ten times worse. I’d be doubled over in pain and it was so frustrating because nobody knew what was wrong.”
Her mother suspected it was Endometriosis which occurs when endometrial cells that normally line the interior of the uterus relocate to a woman’s pelvic area. It can trigger inflammation and intense pain. It’s something Melissa’s mom experienced as a young woman. “She’s describing everything the way I would describe it but nobody wanted to listen except when Dr. Gell finally was there,” said Ms. Sonday. Her doctor, Geisinger Reproductive Endocrinologist Jennifer Gell, MD said, “(She) had symptoms very suggestive of Endometriosis along with her mom’s history they opted to go right to surgical diagnosis.”
Dr. Gell says Melissa and other women with a family history of Endometriosis have a seven-fold risk of having it themselves. Dr. Gell performed laparoscopic surgery to remove Melissa’s endometrial tissue.
While Endometriosis can be quite painful for many women, for others the symptoms are virtually nonexistent. Dr. Gell says for less severe symptoms she prescribes suppressant treatment. “Things like suppressing the menstrual cycle with birth control pills, high dose progestin type medications. There’s even a medication called Lupron that sort of turns off the ovary completely.”
For Melissa, appreciation of Dr. Gell’s diagnosis and treatment. “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d have my two little ones.” Melissa required a second surgery for Endometriosis before starting her family. The condition often eases after pregnancy and completely resolves itself after menopause.
Dr. Gell will speak about Endometriosis and its link to infertility at a national conference the last week of March.