A condition often associated with infertility is affecting thousands of women, creating life-changing predicaments about current treatments.
Endometriosis causes tissue resembling the lining of the uterus to grow elsewhere, causing symptoms ranging from debilitating pain, fatigue and infertility. More information can be found here.
Verite Savage, 24, Lincoln, waited seven years to be diagnosed. She had surgery last year removing the endometriosis throughout her body, but she still faces debilitating pain, presenting her with a dilemma.
“I’ve been told I may need more surgery but if I have it, I won’t be able to conceive, ever,” Miss Savage said.
There are currently three types of surgery for treatment, each more invasive depending on the severity, in addition to hormone treatment and pain relief.
She said she is waiting until she has children before considering a second surgery because more than one poses a higher risk of miscarriage.
“I am prescribed over 100 opioid tablets a month, and the GP seem to do this happily despite the addictiveness of these painkillers.
“I take them most of the time despite knowing it’s bad for me, but when I’m in this much pain I don’t have any other option,” she said.
Miss Savage refuses to take hormone treatment, such as the coil, because of “scare stories”, referring to the pain of insertion and heavy periods.
It’s not fully understood why endometriosis might affect fertility. Medication will not improve the chances of conception which is why surgery may seem like the most effective treatment.
Jody Stewart, a Lincoln-based support group leader for Endometriosis UK, is raising awareness for the condition very few people recognise.
Like many others with severe endometriosis, Mrs Stewart had to undergo fertility treatment to get pregnant. She described it as being “horrible”.
“I would never wish to suggest to anybody that they put themselves through fertility treatment.”
But she said she has met some “amazingly inspirational” people along the way.
Mrs Stewart, who continues to run support groups in Lincoln Waitrose community room, now has a six-year-old daughter.
While research suggests that 30–50 per cent of women with endometriosis find it hard to get pregnant, it does not mean there will be complications.
Visit https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/ for more information.