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What is Endometriosis?

Digital X-ray Systems

By Cecil A. Long, MD

Many of the patients I see at the American Institute for Reproductive Medicine have endometriosis. Endometriosis is thought to be caused by retrograde menstruation. Cells within the menstrual flow can set up micrographs behind the uterus, on the ovaries, and on the fallopian tubes causing cytotoxic reactions and even leading to adhesive bands that restrict the fallopian tube from having complete access to the ovaries on either side. This means that the endometrium, the lining within the uterus, is growing outside the uterus. When you go through a normal menstrual cycle, this lining breaks down and is removed from your body. However, with endometriosis this cleansing process cannot happen as intended, leading to potential complications. The potential symptoms of this condition can include cyclic pelvic pain, which occurs around the time of menstruation [dysmenorrhea], or pelvic pain throughout the menstrual cycle. Some people experience painful intercourse [dyspareunia]. However, sometimes the only symptom of endometriosis is simply the inability to conceive. Although these symptoms are often indicative of endome-

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triosis, they could be linked to other pelvic or reproductive problems. There are several procedures used to diagnose endometriosis, including pelvic ultrasound and laparoscopic exams. Patients often ask me how endometriosis might affect fertility. Endometriosis manifests itself differently in every patient. However, a diagnosis for endometriosis is often associated with trouble conceiving. Endometriosis causes immunologic type reactions similar to having a foreign body in your skin like a splinter. So, over time, the body tries to corral and get rid of the “splinter.” Similar reactions occur regarding endometriosis because these cells are not supposed to be in body. These immunologic hemotoxic reactions can affect the sperm, the egg, or the embryo.” If you think you may have endometriosis or want to talk to a doctor about your diagnosis, we recommend you make an appointment to see one of our practitioners. AIRM would love to serve you and help you in your journey with endometriosis. Cecil A. Long, MD is a Board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, and is the co-founder of America Institute of Reproductive Medicine (AIRM).

How to Spot Signs, continued from page 17

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18 • AUGUST 2019

Birmingham Medical News

shame for not being believed and will also create fear when it comes to reporting future instances of abuse. Neglect is another form of elder abuse, and according to Speck, there are three types of neglect — physical, emotional and self. “Physical neglect is defined as failing to attend to a person’s medical hygiene, nutrition and dietary needs,” she said. “It may also involve not giving them their medications or not changing their bandages on time. “We often see emotional neglect when an older person is infantilized by their caregiver. Abandonment is also a common problem, where someone is left at an emergency department or the hospital.” Self-neglect is a growing concern and appears when a person chooses not to be treated by a health care provider. Signs of self-neglect include attempted suicide,

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withdrawal, anxiety, psychosomatic ailments such as stomachaches and headaches, and difficulty sleeping. The older person may desire to be alone, but social support is important to his/her health. If you see signs of abuse, Speck says the best thing to do is to be gentle and listen. When communicating with an older person who you suspect has been abused, make sure the person knows what you are saying. If a document is involved, make sure the letters are large enough so they can read the print. Also, use trauma-informed care principles of safety and transparency to communicate with them in a place where they feel comfortable. If you suspect abuse, talk with them when the two of you are alone. Offer to take him/her to get help. Many communities have Coordinated Community Responses to Elder Abuse, with a variety of services. To report abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders or vulnerable adults in Alabama: • Call 911 if that person is in immediate, life-threatening danger. • Call the hotline at 1-800-458-7214 to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders • For services to support elder persons in your community, call 1-800-677-1116, the Eldercare Locator (a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging), to speak with someone who will connect you to services for older adults.

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