Severe Endometriosis and Pregnancy: A True Story
Endometriosis and pregnancy
Endometrial cells are supposed to grow only inside the uterus. Sometimes, however, these cells grow in other parts of the pelvic area, where they’re not supposed to. When this happens, the condition is referred to as endometriosis or pelvic endometriosis. These cells can attach to the fallopian tubes, the ovaries, the intestines, the bladder, the vagina, the cervix, and on the outside of the uterus.
Endometriosis symptoms include pelvic pain, back pain, constipation, diarrhea, irregular periods, heavy menstrual flow, nausea, fever, and infertility.
Who does pelvic endometriosis affect? Endometriosis or pelvic endometriosis affects about one million women in the United States. Tall, thin women seem to be more at risk, along with women who wait until later in their reproductive years to become pregnant. It also affects more white women than it does African American or Asian women.
When my youngest daughter, Melissa, began to experience endometriosis symptoms, she made an appointment with her Ob-Gyn. She found out she had severe endometriosis, even though she did not fit the typical profile, other than being a white female. She’s not tall. In fact, she stands only five feet. She’s not thin, either, although she’s not fat. A former gymnast and cheerleader, she has a muscular, athletic build. She was nineteen years old when she had her first child, so she doesn’t fit that part of the profile, either.
Nevertheless, she had endometriosis – severe endometriosis. Treatment for endometriosis usually includes anti-inflammatory drugs, oral contraceptives, progestins, and other drugs. Her IUD was also removed, thinking that might help relieve her symptoms. None of these relived her symptoms. Melissa had such severe endometriosis that her doctor felt that laparoscopic surgery was necessary.
She had the surgery at a local hospital, and of course, I was there for it. After the surgery, Dr. Drew told us that Mel had many adhesions, especially on her intestines. He got rid of most of them, but he said they would undoubtedly return and that she’d have to have more surgeries. I knew that with endometriosis infertility was a problem, so I was glad that she already had two children.
Endometriosis and infertility
With mild endometriosis fertility is usually not a problem, especially when the endometriosis is limited to a small area; however, with severe endometriosis infertility is usually as issue. I had read about endometriosis and infertility, so I was concerned about Mel not being able to bear more children. This wasn’t a big concern for her. She already had two boys, and while she and her husband desperately wanted a little girl, Melissa figured if she had a third child, it would be another boy. She had made up her mind not to have more kids.
After the surgery, Melissa asked Dr. Drew about birth control. Since her IUD had been removed, she was unprotected. He told her not to worry about getting pregnant. Because of her severe endometriosis, pregnancy was very unlikely.
Endometriosis and pregnancy
A couple of months later, guess what? She was pregnant! This was a little scary. The good doctor explained that with endometriosis pregnancy, there’s a higher risk for an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere outside the womb. This might be in the fallopian tubes, the cervix, on an ovary, or somewhere else in the abdominal cavity.
Melissa didn’t even tell the boys about her pregnancy. She knew they would get all excited at the thought of having a little brother or sister and would devastated if she lost the baby. She found out via an ultrasound that the pregnancy was normal and not ectopic, but she decided to wait three months before sharing the news with the boys.
Melissa found that being pregnant with endometriosis was no picnic. She still has some of the pelvic pain, in addition to the added stress of pregnancy. When a subsequent ultrasound was performed at her four months checkup, we found out the baby is a girl! I was almost afraid to believe it. They did another ultrasound just last week, and it’s still a girl! We could see her little face from the black-and-white pictures, and she’s beautiful!
Now she’s six months along. We’re expecting the new baby on May 5, but she’ll come early if she follows the pattern set by her older brothers. Both of them were several weeks early, but they were fine – just a little small.
We all feel pretty good now about Mel’s endometriosis pregnancy. We are a little concerned about the future, however, regarding how many more surgeries she might have to endure. For the present, we’re looking forward to meeting our new arrival – I needed another granddaughter to help even the score! I already have five grandsons but only two granddaughters.
I guess this is one of those endometriosis stories with a happy ending, and I hope and pray it stays that way!
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