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Endometriosis and Your Fertility

by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, Jan. 25, 2010

It took you years to figure out that your painful periods were the result of endometriosis, a disease that affects more than 7 million women worldwide, according to the Endomentriosis Association. Now all you want to know is how it will affect your chances of getting pregnant. An enigmatic disease that involves the abnormal growth outside the uterus of tissues found normally inside the uterus, sufferers generally experience severe pelvic pain, irregular bleeding, and infertility. Although there is no “cure” for endometriosis, treatment usually involves surgery, pain medication, and hormone therapy.

Now there is a way better to understand how you can manage the disease and your fertility. Doctors at Fertility Physicians of Northern California in Palo Alto, have developed a new system for determining the stage of the disease, the best course of treatment, and a better way to predicting your chances of getting pregnant in any given month.
Created by data collected from 801 patients diagnosed with the disease, the doctors developed the Endometriosis Fertility Index (EFI) using statistical analysis and mathematical modeling in order to create a common language for understanding how the disease affects individual women.

Unlike other staging indexes, says Dr. David Adamson, one of the EFI’s creators, the EFI takes into consideration factors such as age, the effects of surgery, years of infertility and whether or not you’ve been pregnant before.

Depending on your determined stage, which ranges between zero and ten, a woman can look at what Dr. Adamson calls a “life stage curve” and gain a better sense of her chances of getting pregnant after diagnosis, depending on the number of months she's been trying to conceive. “If the chances look good then the doctor will recommend less intervention,” says Dr. Adamson. “If the chances look poor then the doctor can decide whether a patient should go straight to IVF.”