Endometriosis is a mysterious condition. Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. We aren't really sure why it happens and we also aren't really sure how or why it can impact fertility (and it doesn't always!). What we do know is that it can cause pelvic pain for many women both during the menstrual cycle and also when they're not menstruating, pain during intercourse, and abnormal vaginal bleeding patterns.
One of the theories behind the symptoms that endometriosis presents with is that the endometriosis creates inflammation in the abdominal cavity which can cause pain & scarring & an inhospitable uterus. The possibility of scarring comes from the constant irritation that the endometriosis causes, which can then also alter fallopian tube function and can even block them. That being said, from a fertility perspective surgery to remove the endometriosis is not usually recommended. IVF of course can bypass the fallopian tube issues, which can be very helpful for some couples.
Naturally there are many things that can be done to help manage and even shrink endometriosis. Here are a few examples:
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) was studied in Italy in 47 women and was shown to decrease the pain and cyst size in a significant number of women.
- Ginger taken starting 4 days before an expected period has been shown to decrease the pain associated with endometriosis during menses.
- Melatonin has been shown to reduce pelvic pain and pain associated with intercourse in those with endometriosis. It has also been shown in animal studies to reduce the size of the endometriomas.
- Pycnogenol was shown to reduce pelvic pain in women with endometriosis by 33% in one study.