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Your doctor will also ask you about chemical exposure you may have had, to determine if you come into contact with dioxins on an ongoing basis. Dioxins are the byproduct of chemical waste, burning waste and pesticides, and some studies have linked these toxins to higher rates of endometriosis. 3


Q – What diagnostic tests will you perform to confirm the diagnosis of endometriosis? A – A number of diagnostic tests will be done. These include:


• Pelvic Exam. Your doctor will be checking for scar tissue and also larger cysts that may have formed around or behind the uterus. Smaller cysts cannot typically be felt during pelvic exams.


• Vaginal Ultrasound. The ultrasound will be used to spot cysts that are too small in size to be discovered during the pelvic exam.


• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan. MRI’s and CT scans can help your doctor find and identify endometriomas, the endometrial tissue that grows outside of the uterus.


• Blood tests. Women with advanced endometriosis have high levels of a certain protein in their blood. This protein is called CA 125. Testing for this protein has typically proven ineffective for women with mild to moderate endometriosis.


• Laparoscopy. A laparoscopy is the test that will definitively determine the diagnosis of endometriosis. A laparoscopy is a minor surgery that requires general anesthesia. A tiny cut will be made in your abdomen, allowing your doctor to see inside with a thin, lighted tube. If you have endometrial growths they will most likely be visible, but often a tissue sample will be extracted and studied in the laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.


Q – Why does endometriosis cause infertility? A – While the complete cause is unknown, we do know that when endometriosis causes scar tissue to form in the reproductive organs, it is harder, and sometimes even impossible to conceive without


medical treatment. Even if the amount of endometriosis you have is mild, its location will be of significance to your doctor. You should note that up to half of all women with this diagnosis have trouble conceiving.


Q- If I have endometriosis, can I get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby? A – Yes, with the right medical treatment and care, many women with this disease will be able to achieve healthy pregnancies.


Q – What lifestyle changes should I make that will help me manage endometriosis? A – As with many disorders that result in infertility, part of your overall treatment plan will be focused on lifestyle changes you can make that can support a more positive outcome, both in the area of achieving pregnancy and also in diminishing symptoms. These changes will support your overall health as well. For example, a regular exercise regimen has been shown in several studies to reduce a woman’s risk of endometriosis and if possible, should be incorporated into your lifestyle.


Diet is also important. Endometriosis is an estrogen dependent condition, which is why endometrial tissue levels increase in the body when estrogen levels are high. Women whose diet is high in red meat and low in fruits and vegetables have been shown in several studies to be at a higher risk of acquiring endometriosis.


Most studies4 that have been done to date correlate


healthy habits in diet and exercise to risk reduction for endometriosis more than for symptom reduction. However, several recent studies do point to symptom alleviation when fish oil5


and antioxidants6 are added


to the diet. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight will enhance your efforts to conceive.


For women with endometriosis, foods that should be avoided include those that increase prostaglandins E2


THE RESOURCES LISTED IN THIS DIRECTORY ARE UNSCREENED AND SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED AS RECOMMENDATIONS OR ENDORSEMENTS, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, BY THE AFA. 25


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