investigating endometriosis

As with so many women’s health issues, endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, sometimes those women with the most severe-looking lesions have virtually no symptoms.

A recent study published on the British Medical Journal website aims to solve these diagnostic issues, by suggesting that endometriosis be reclassified as a ‘syndrome’ rather than a ‘disease’.

What is a syndrome and how does endometriosis fall into this category?

The word ‘syndrome’ comes from the Ancient Greek word for ‘running together’ and is used to describe groups of symptoms that usually occur alongside each other, where the root medical cause is unknown or not fully understood.

As mentioned above, symptoms of endometriosis can be varied – some women suffer from pelvic pain, difficult periods and pain during sexual intercourse, whilst others may experience fatigue, or irritable bowel symptoms.

There may be obvious endometriotic lesions around the uterus, with virtually no other symptoms, or there could be severe symptoms with almost non-existent lesions. The link between lesions and other symptoms is not fully known.

The authors of the study claim that reclassifying endometriosis as a syndrome would allow for better and faster diagnosis and treatment, thus improving patients’ quality of life.

How would reclassifying endometriosis mean faster diagnosis?

There is currently an average delay of seven to eight years between the onset of symptoms and an official diagnosis of endometriosis.

One of the problems causing a delay in endometriosis diagnosis is a lack of surgical services within the NHS to allow doctors to confirm the existence of the lesions. Reclassifying the disease as a syndrome wouldn’t help with this aspect.

However, currently the main symptom that is officially recognised in endometriosis is persistent pelvic pain. Many women with lesions do not experience pelvic pain, whilst many women with pelvic pain do not have lesions.

As a syndrome, the definition of endometriosis would allow for a much broader range of symptoms. So, clinicians would be more likely to refer women for investigation if they had irritable bowel syndrome, or fatigue, for example, rather than assuming it could not be endometriosis because of the lack of pelvic pain.

What other benefits are there to reclassifying endometriosis?

One major benefit of the reclassification would be a more targeted treatment. With diseases, treatments are aimed at the cause, whereas with syndromes the aim is to treat the symptoms.

So currently, treatment for endometriosis is based solely on removing the lesions, which can put women at risk, and often doesn’t resolve the symptoms.

Treating it as a syndrome would allow clinicians to offer a more holistic approach, helping to manage the symptoms, which – for most sufferers – are the biggest issue.

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with endometriosis, why not contact us on 07835 736627  today and make an appointment to see one of our specialists.

Over the years, several studies have shown that women with endometriosis suffer from poor sleep quality, but a new project from a group of researchers in Iran claims to be the first to have investigated the effect of lifestyle factors on the sleep quality of women with endometriosis.

Why is sleep quality and endometriosis linked?

As with many aspects of endometriosis, the link between the disease and poor sleep quality is not fully known, although it is thought to be associated with pain.

This study aimed to take a more holistic look at endometriosis and sleep quality, examining whether lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, socio-economic level, history of smoking etc could also be having an impact.

How was the study carried out?

The research team took a group of 156 infertile women, of whom 78 had endometriosis and 78 functioned as a control group.

At the beginning of the study, each participant completed a checklist of questions about their physical activity, demographics, reproductive and menstrual status, among other things.

Different aspects of sleep quality were assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which looks at elements of sleep quality such as:

  • sleep latency
  • sleep duration
  • sleep disturbances
  • daytime dysfunction

The researchers then used various approved statistical analysis tools to examine links between various lifestyle factors and poor sleep quality in women with endometriosis and the control group.

What were the results of the study?

Sleep quality was found to be significantly lower amongst the women with endometriosis than those in the control group.

The factors found to be most strongly linked to poor sleep quality were dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain), dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), pelvic pain, low physical activity and low consumption of dairy produce, fruits and nuts.

What are the implications of this for women with endometriosis?

Whilst many of the sleep-affecting issues are direct symptoms of endometriosis, other factors, such as diet and exercise can be changed to impact on quality of sleep.

The study found that women with endometriosis were significantly less likely to have a diet rich in tryptophan, which aids melatonin production, which in turn allows for a better night’s sleep.

Exercise levels were also much lower in women with endometriosis sufferers, and those with a physical activity level rated ‘high’ (more than three hours per week) were found to have a much better quality of sleep than those who did little to no exercise.

If you have been having problems sleeping and you suffer from any of the other symptoms associated with endometriosis – severe pelvic pain, painful periods, pain during intercourse, bowel or bladder issues – why not contact us today to arrange a consultation with one of our specialists. Call SureScan today on 07835 736627 to book an appointment.

recurrent miscarriage treatment

For those trying desperately to have a baby, recurrent miscarriages can be absolutely devastating.

Numerous studies and research projects are constantly being carried out to determine why recurrent miscarriages occur and how they can be prevented. One of the latest research projects carried out by Warwick University has revealed a potential cause and treatment which could provide hope for thousands of women.

The researchers discovered that the main cause of recurrent miscarriage could be linked to a lack of stem cells found within the womb. When trying to determine how more stem cells could be produced, they found that a diabetes drug taken by participants resulted in no miscarriages. So, what does this new research mean for patients and could a diabetes drug be the key to successful recurrent miscarriage treatment?

Understanding the latest research

The latest research looked into how stem cells within the womb link to recurrent miscarriages. It was funded by Tommys, and it revealed that a lack of stem cells within the womb links to an excessive level of the DPP4 enzyme. This can prevent stem cells from receiving blood within the lining of the womb.

The trial specifically looked at how the Diabetes drug, Sitagliptin, could help to halt the DPP4 enzyme. In turn, they wanted to see if it could prevent recurrent miscarriages.

There were 37 women involved in the trial in the UK. Some were given the Sitagliptin drug, while others were given a placebo. It revealed that Sitagliptin did increase the number of stem cells found within the womb. Approximately 68% of the women taking the drug, were found to have increased stem cells within the womb after the trial. Interestingly, it also reduced the number of miscarriages in the group that were taking the drug, compared to those taking the placebo.

Work now underway to develop new test

The promising results of the study have led researchers to now go on to attempt to develop a new test. There were a few issues discovered within the original study, with side effects such as headaches presented. So, these will need to be further addressed to assess the safety of taking the drug as a treatment for recurrent miscarriages.

They are aiming to carry out a clinical trial. If that proves successful, it will turn out to be the first targeted treatment specifically designed to prevent miscarriages.

What does it mean for patients?

The results of the latest study provide hope for women currently experiencing recurrent miscarriages. While some miscarriages are caused by genetic factors, many tend to occur due to issues with the lining of the womb. So, if the drug does prove effective at reducing the miscarriage rate safely, it could prove game-changing for those struggling to carry a baby to full term.

Miscarriages have often been seen as an unpreventable issue for couples going through fertility treatments. However, as this new research shows, some miscarriages could be prevented through increasing the number of stem cells within the womb lining.

Gynaecological ultrasound

A gynaecological ultrasound can prove useful in the detection of numerous female health issues. These non-invasive scans don’t just potential identify problems, they can also provide more detailed information about them.

There are numerous reasons why you might need a gynaecological ultrasound. Here, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons you might need one.

Gynaecological ultrasound can detect fibroids and cysts

Fibroids are thought to affect around 20% to 30% of the population. These benign growths may not be life-threatening, but they can still cause a lot of problems for patients. They can lead to heavy, painful periods, alongside placing pressure onto the bladder which promotes more frequent urination. In severe cases, they can even cause issues with fertility. A gynaecological ultrasound scan can help to detect the presence of fibroids and determine whether they need to be removed.

Similarly, they can also detect cysts. While the majority of cysts are benign, some could be cancerous. Ultrasound scans can help to determine whether a cyst is cancerous or not. This would help patients to seek faster treatment.

Gynaecological ultrasound to assess pelvic pain

If you’re experiencing pelvic pain, you may also find a gynaecological ultrasound scan to prove effective at identifying the issue. Typically, pelvic pain is common in most women during menstruation. However, if you are experiencing worse pain than usual or bouts of pelvic pain outside of your menstrual cycle, it could point to abnormalities.

An ultrasound scan can accurately detect conditions such as Endometriosis and adhesions. In terms of Endometriosis, there is no cure available and diagnosis can take years when going through a GP. An ultrasound scan doesn’t just detect the issue, it can also reveal how severe it is. This allows patients to discover their best treatment options moving forward.

Gynaecological ultrasound to identify irregular bleeding and the menopause

Although it is inevitable, many women can suffer nasty side effects when going through the menopause. The menopause itself is diagnosed when periods completely stop for at least one year. However, in the years leading up to the menopause, changes can start occurring in the body. One of these changes is irregular bleeding.

An ultrasound scan can help you determine whether your irregular bleeding could be caused by the perimenopause, or whether it is linked to something else entirely. The majority of the time, it is caused by benign abnormalities or hormonal issues. Knowing what is causing the issue gives you the best idea of how it should be treated.

Gynaecological ultrasound to assess fertility issues

Finally, another common reason to undergo a gynaecological ultrasound scan is due to issues with fertility. Many women suffer from fertility issues today and it can understandably be frustrating and worrying when issues do occur. An ultrasound scan can help to determine whether there is an internal problem.

These are some of the main reasons why you might need a gynaecological ultrasound scan. They aren’t just crucial in the detection of numerous issues; they can also help to reveal the severity of a problem too. This, in turn, helps clinicians determine the best possible treatment moving forward.

fibroids FAQs

Fibroids are a condition which affects approximately 75% of women during their lifetime. However, despite how common they are, many women are left feeling ignored and unsupported when they seek help for the condition.

If you have fibroids, or if you suspect you do, it’s common to have questions that may not have been answered by your doctor. So, to help, here you’ll discover the answers to some of the most Googled questions about fibroids.

Fibroids FAQs: What are fibroids?

Fibroids are classed as benign overgrowths of the womb and uterus muscle layer. They are non-cancerous and otherwise referred to as myomas. What many women don’t realise is that there are actually different types of fibroids you can develop. These include:

  • Intramural
  • Submucosal
  • Subserosal

The Intramural type tends to grow almost exclusively within the wall. Submucosal fibroids are known to grow inwards and push through the uterine cavity. The Subserosal type, on the other hand, grow outwards and are known to often poke through the uterine wall.

You can have one, or multiple fibroids at the same time. You can even have different types of fibroids at the same time. Many women don’t even realise they have them as they don’t always present noticeable symptoms. However, for others, the symptoms can be quite severe.

Fibroids FAQs: What symptoms do they present?

Although symptoms can vary between women, the main ones include:

  • Heavy and painful menstrual bleeding
  • More frequent urination
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fertility issues

The most common symptom is heavier, more painful menstruation. Fibroids are known to increase the space within the womb. This, in turn, leaves additional space for the lining of the womb to grow, meaning more of it will shed during menstruation.

If the fibroids are pressing down on the bladder, you’ll also feel the need to urinate more frequently. You may also experience pain during intercourse and in a very small number of women, it could contribute to fertility issues.

Fibroids FAQs: Can fibroids be treated naturally?

The only natural thing known to treat fibroids is the menopause. Besides that, unfortunately, there aren’t any effective natural treatments known to eliminate them.

This is because fibroids tend to grow due to changing oestrogen levels. During the menopause, the levels drop, and periods stop. This means the symptoms of fibroids often disappear completely.

One thing you could potentially try is eating a healthy diet packed full of fibre. This is because the fibre encourages the liver to break down oestrogen. So, if the levels are lower, fibroids are less likely to develop. However, it’s worth noting even women who do follow a healthy, fibre packed diet can still develop fibroids.

Fibroids FAQs: Will they need to be removed?

The only way to effectively treat fibroids is to have them removed. However, the majority of women find they don’t need to go under the knife. Instead, most fibroids clear up on their own.

They are detected via ultrasound and depending upon their size, location and severity, the surgeon may decide that they don’t need to be removed. However, if they are causing serious problems such as infertility and severe pain, surgery would be the best way to remove them.

If you suspect you have fibroids, book a consultation with a female health specialist today. This will help to determine whether you do have them and whether they need to be treated.

fibroids diagnosis

A study has revealed that by the age of 50, approximately 80% of women will have experienced fibroids. While in some cases they don’t present any symptoms, for others they can prove debilitating.

Here, we’ll look at this unspoken disease affecting mid-life women and why it’s important to seek treatment if you have them.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids develop within the uterus and they’re classified as non-cancerous tumours. The cause of the condition is unknown, though they do affect the majority of women at some point throughout their lifetime.

Fibroids can vary in size and larger ones can cause more significant symptoms. They can also be referred to as myomas, fibromas and leiomyomas. Although the risk of them leading to infertility is rare, they can lead to a hysterectomy. It is thought that in the US there are 200,000 hysterectomies carried out due to fibroids. They also increase the risk of needing a C-section delivery.

Understanding the different types

Did you know that there are different types of fibroids you can develop too? The type of fibroid you’re suffering with will depend upon where it has developed.

The most common type is the Intramural fibroid. It develops on the muscular wall and they have the potential to grow large enough to stretch the womb. If the fibroid develops on the outside of the uterus, it’s known as a Subserosal fibroid. This type can cause the womb to grow larger on one side.

If you do develop the Subserosal type, it can also lead to Pedunculated fibroids. These occur when a stem grows from a Subserosal fibroid. Then finally, there are the Submuscular fibroids. These develop in the centre of the mid muscle layer of the uterus. They tend to be the lesser common types you can suffer with.

What symptoms do they produce?

The symptoms of fibroids differ depending upon the type and size of the tumour. Some women experience no symptoms at all, while others have severe symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pain.

The most common symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Longer, heavier and more painful menstruation
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvis
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Swelling of the abdomen

If you have any of these symptoms and suspect it may be fibroid related, it’s important to seek a diagnosis.

Fibroids diagnosis and treatment

A gynaecologist can diagnose fibroids via a pelvic scan. This scan is used to detect the fibroids, as well as establish their size and position. You may also need to undergo an ultrasound scan and a pelvic MRI.

Once the fibroids have been assessed, a treatment plan can be produced. This can include home remedies such as yoga, acupuncture and heat packs. It could also include medication, and in severe cases, surgery may be recommended. There are also newer, less invasive treatments available.

If you’re concerned you may have fibroids, it’s important to seek a fibroids diagnosis. Booking a consultation with a gynaecologist or women’s health specialist will help you to determine the type and size of the fibroids, following the best course of treatment to eliminate them. Call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at SureScan.

On 10 February 2020, the government launched a new inquiry into the impact of Endometriosis. The aim of this inquiry is to establish the challenges those with Endometriosis face and the steps that can be taken to improve the standard of care.

Patients were advised to fill in a survey, which will be used in conjunction with evidence gathered through hearings in March, to compile a report in July 2020. Here, we’ll look at why this new inquiry is important and the current diagnosis and treatment options available for Endometriosis.

Why is this new inquiry important?

The importance of this new inquiry into the diagnosis and treatment of Endometriosis becomes apparent when you take a look at the statistics.

The condition is said to affect 1 in 10 women within the UK. However, despite how common it is, statistics show that it takes an average of seven years to get a diagnosis. Considering how severe symptoms can be, this is a shocking statistic and the government is now hoping to improve the rate of Endometriosis diagnosis and the treatments available.

The reasons behind the poor diagnostic rate are said to be down to two main factors. Firstly, the symptoms associated with Endometriosis are similar to those developed due to other conditions. The other reason is said to be down to assumptions placed on female health.

Many GPs are said to be unaware of what normal menstrual pain is, making it difficult for them to determine whether a patient does have Endometriosis or standard period pain.

There was a report carried out a couple of years ago by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which highlighted 42% of women said they felt they hadn’t been treated with respect and dignity. They felt that women’s symptoms were often dismissed by GPs.

Agreeing that seven years is far too long to receive an accurate diagnosis, MPs are now carrying out an inquiry to further investigate the issues. The APPG will lead the inquiry, with the hope they can identify the steps which need to be taken to resolve the issues presented.

How is Endometriosis diagnosed?

A laparoscopy is the only way to currently diagnose Endometriosis. This involves placing a small camera into the pelvis close to the naval. The surgeon then looks for signs of the condition in the pelvic area. If it is discovered, the surgeon may treat the problem right away or carry out further investigation.

The Endometriosis diagnosis is difficult due to how similar the symptoms are to other conditions. Blood tests, scans and internal examination isn’t known to be a conclusive way to diagnose the condition either. For this reason, it is important for patients to share as much information about their symptoms as possible.

Although scans aren’t a conclusive way to diagnose Endometriosis, they can still prove useful to determine whether there is an issue. Therefore, patients are advised to undergo a women’s health scan if they suspect the condition is responsible for their symptoms.

This new inquiry provides hope that better diagnosis and treatment will become available for women suffering with Endometriosis. In the meantime, documenting symptoms and requesting a laparoscopy is the only real way to receive an accurate diagnosis.

treatment for PCOS

PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), is said to affect one in five women in the UK according to the NHS. Caused by an imbalance of the reproductive hormones, this common condition can lead to a number of health worries, including infertility.

Now, researchers have discovered that the hormone Kisspeptin can control ovarian stimulation in rats. Here, we’ll look at this new study and what it could mean for patients dealing with PCOS.

Understanding the study

The new study carried out by researchers in Turkey has revealed that Kisspeptin could be a solution for PCOS. There are a number of hormones which contribute to fertility health, and Kisspeptin-1 is thought to be one of the main ones.

The anti-Müllerian hormone is directly related to female reproductive function. So, the researchers carried out the study to investigate the role it plays in PCOS in rats. They also looked into controlled ovary stimulation which aims to increase fertility. They looked at histopathological, immunohistochemical and hormonal controlled ovarian stimulation.

The results of the study revealed that controlled ovarian stimulation wasn’t impacted by KISS1 density in rats with PCOS. However, it did show that Kisspeptin did play a role in the development of controlled ovarian stimulation in rats without the condition.

As the recent study was conducted on rats, further research will need to be carried out in humans to determine whether Kisspeptin could be the solution for PCOS.

Helping to boost quality of life

Another study has revealed that those who do suffer from PCOS, report the same quality of life as those living with other chronic health conditions. The findings of the study were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Previous studies into the quality of life for PCOS patients have been quite small. They have largely centred around reproductive age women from PCOS clinics. They also never followed up on the patients included in the study. The effects individual symptoms of the condition have on patients has also never been looked into.

This new study, carried out by researchers in Finland, assessed follow-up data from women aged 31 and 46 years old. They had taken part in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. After analysing the data, the researchers discovered quality of life scores were worse in women aged 31 and 46 with PCOS. In particular, they reported a higher level of mental distress.

What current treatments are available?

PCOS is diagnosed through pelvic exams, blood tests and an ultrasound. If you are diagnosed with the condition, there are numerous treatments available. You may be recommended to make lifestyle changes or take medications depending upon the symptoms of the condition. Due to the mental distress that the condition can cause, patients are also advised to seek counselling or other therapy to help them deal with the symptoms of PCOS.

In order to receive the correct treatment, it is crucial patients undergo a proper diagnosis. The treatments provided will focus on eliminating or reducing the individual symptoms experienced. Book a consultation at our clinic today to discover the diagnostic tests available. Call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at SureScan.

treating menopausal symptoms

The menopause is one of the biggest health events women go through in their lifetime. While it can be a relief to see the back of the menstrual cycle, that can soon fade once the side effects of the menopause kick in.

There are different stages of the menopause and each woman will experience them slightly differently. Here, we’ll look at the different stages of the condition and what you can expect from each one.

The Perimenopause

The first stage is known as the Perimenopause. It tends to occur around five years before the actual menopause begins. It is the lead-up stage, and it can trigger the common symptoms associated with the menopause such as hot flushes and mood swings.

The ovaries start to produce fewer follicles, and the menstrual cycle starts to become irregular. Approximately 12% of women at this stage experience a complete halt to their periods. The other 88% experience fluctuations within their cycle, with it lasting longer or shorter than usual. There may even be spotting experienced between cycles and the start date will change with each passing month.

It is the drop in progesterone hormones that causes symptoms to start developing. These can include sleep troubles, mood swings and anxiety.

The Menopause

The menopause itself tends to occur between the ages of 45 and 50. However, some women experience early menopause in their 20s and 30s. It is diagnosed when you haven’t had a menstrual cycle for at least 12 months.

When the menopause occurs, additional symptoms kick in. You may start to find your joints become more stiff and painful. This is particularly true for the hips and knees. Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, more frequent urination, more severe mood swings and hot flushes.

The symptoms of the menopause can last for years after periods have stopped completely, which leads us onto the last stage.

Post-Menopause

The final stage is known as post-menopause. Your adrenal glands continue to produce oestrone, only in much smaller quantities. The hormone levels are much lower than they were pre-menopause. So, you can continue to experience symptoms such as thinning hair, mood swings and depression.

During this stage, it’s really important to focus on ways to reduce the effects the limited hormones have on the body. Eating a healthy diet, exercising and keeping an eye on cholesterol and blood sugar levels is recommended. You’ll also want to look at strengthening the bones as the menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis.

As you can see, the different stages of the menopause contribute to different symptoms. There are things you can do throughout each stage to limit its impact on your health.

If you suspect you are going through menopausal symptoms, it’s important to seek a diagnosis. Testing for the menopause is limited, with many patients feeling like they are let down by their GP due to a dismissal of the symptoms. Therefore, it’s a good idea to seek a diagnosis from a specialist women’s health clinic. They will also be able to recommend treatment options to manage the menopausal symptoms. Call 07835 736627 to arrange an appointment at SureScan.

miscarriage prevention

A new study has revealed that over 8,000 miscarriages could be prevented through a simple daily pill.

The research, carried out by the University of Birmingham and Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage, involved analysing two different clinical trials entitled Promise and Prism. The results of the study have proven promising, leading to hope it could improve the current miscarriage rate.

Here, we’ll look at what these two new trials revealed and whether a daily pill could prevent thousands of miscarriages.

Understanding the miscarriage prevention research

Both the Promise and the Prism clinical trial results were assessed as part of the new research.

Promise included 838 women who had suffered recurrent miscarriages across 45 different hospitals in the UK and Netherlands. When the hormone progesterone was inserted into the vagina, it was revealed that the birth rate was increased by 3%.

Prism was a larger clinical trial, consisting of 4,153 women who had experienced early pregnancy bleeding. Some were provided with progesterone, while others received a placebo pill through until 16 weeks into the pregnancy. It was discovered that those who had already suffered a miscarriage who were given progesterone, saw the number of babies born increase by 5%. For the women who had experienced three or more miscarriages, the birth rate increased by an impressive 15%.

These results have proven to be extremely promising, suggesting the progesterone drug could prevent 8,450 miscarriages each year.

Could a daily pill be the key to miscarriage prevention?

So, could a daily progesterone pill really be the key to preventing miscarriages? Well, there are a lot of reasons why miscarriages can occur. However, for those suffering recurrent miscarriages, or bleeding early in their pregnancy, progesterone is certainly proving promising as an effective treatment option.

The debate over using the drug to help reduce miscarriages has actually been ongoing for 60 years. However, up until now there has been little in the way of evidence to support the claims. Now, experts are urging the NHS to offer the hormone as a standard treatment for those who are at risk of miscarriage.

What current treatment options are available for recurrent miscarriages?

If you have experienced one or more miscarriages, it’s understandable you’ll be seeking out ways to prevent them. While Progesterone is currently being recommended as a treatment option, what can you do now to reduce your risks?

At SureScan, we offer a recurrent miscarriage service to help provide peace of mind and reduce the likelihood of suffering another one. You’ll undergo a comprehensive appointment, and an ultrasound scan will be performed, along with blood tests.

Recurrent miscarriages are diagnosed when you suffer three or more miscarriages. They affect approximately one in every 100 couples who are trying to get pregnant. Suffering a miscarriage can be devastating, but with our recurrent miscarriage service, it can provide peace of mind and identify the risks early on.

Discover more about our recurrent miscarriage service here.