It's Not PMS: Endometriosis is a Painful, Chronic Disease that Affects 1 in 10 Women

Endometriosis Awareness Month brings attention to this common disease that is linked to infertility and often goes undiagnosed

VANCOUVER, March 7, 2013 /CNW/ - This March, during Endometriosis Awareness Month, the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC) is shedding light on endometriosis, a chronic, relapsing and often debilitating condition affecting women of reproductive age.

This disease - which is estimated to affect 10 per cent of women - is strongly associated with infertility. A recent study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada identified a 39 per cent prevalence of endometriosis in women experiencing infertility.

"Many women are not getting proper information on endometriosis, particularly on how it can affect their fertility," says Dr. Christina Williams, Director of Williams Fertility at the Crossroads Clinic in Vancouver and Member of the BC Women's Centre for Pain and Endometriosis. "Each woman experiences Endometriosis symptoms differently, depending on the location and severity of the condition. Patients should seek a complete diagnosis with their health provider, and decide on the best treatment option."

Endometriosis is the growth of endometrial tissue, which lines a woman's uterus during her menstrual cycle, in other parts of the body - mostly commonly the fallopian tubes, ovaries, peritoneum and intestines. This tissue produces inflammatory substances in response to the hormones of the menstrual cycle that activate immune processes, which can cause pain or scarring and ovarian cyst formation. It is also associated with abnormal function of the uterine endometrial tissue, leading to severe menstrual cramping and sometimes abnormal bleeding.

In advanced cases, scarring of reproductive organs is linked to infertility. In cases where the ovaries and fallopian tubes are not affected, endometriosis alters other events necessary for successful conception - such as egg maturation, fertilization rates and possible embryo implantation.

Infertility treatment for endometriosis involves either surgical removal of endometriotic tissue, typically through laproscopy, or, in more advanced cases, through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Laproscopy, and other treatments for endometriosis, are publicly funded through BC's medical services plan. Unfortunately, despite being the clinical best practice for treating infertility for many women, in vitro is not publicly funded and is costly - remaining a largely inaccessible option for endometriosis sufferers.

A recent survey undertaken by IAAC found that nearly half of British Columbians have been affected by infertility, either personally or through family, friends or acquaintances. Many British Columbians are attuned to endometriosis' consequences on starting a family; forty-one per cent know endometriosis causes infertility, however the vast majority were unaware of the underlying physiological causes of infertility. When it comes to seeking treatment for infertility, 43 per cent of British Columbians are unable to get treatment due to cost.

"There have been many cases throughout my practice where in vitro fertilization is the only medical option to enable endometriosis patients to conceive," says Dr. Williams. "Unfortunately, because of the cost of in vitro fertilization treatment and the lack of services across the province, many patients have had to give up on their dreams of starting or building a family. By both building awareness of endometriosis and bringing attention to the importance of publicly funding IVF, IAAC is bringing hope to the hundreds of thousands of British Columbians suffering from infertility."

To speak to an Infertility Awareness Association of Canada representative or Dr. Christina Williams, Director of Williams Fertility at the Crossroads Clinic and Member of the BC Women's Centre for Pain and Endometriosis, please contact:

Jeremy Twigg

About the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada Inc. (IAAC) was founded in 1990 and originated from an Ottawa voluntary group called the Infertility Self Support Group, which began in 1983. IAAC is committed to providing educational material, support and assistance to individuals and couples who are experiencing the anguish of infertility, a reproductive health disease which affects over half a million Canadian men and women. 

Image with caption: "Dr. Christina Williams - Credit: Williams Fertility at Crossroads Clinic (CNW Group/Infertility Awareness Association of Canada)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

For further information:

IAAC website -
IVF4BC website -
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Infertility Awareness Association of Canada

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