SAN ANTONIO – Fifty percent of women who struggle with infertility have endometriosis. It’s a condition where the uterine lining forms outside the uterus and in the pelvis. And though it’s common, it’s still a stressful diagnosis. A couple who fought through a unique case came out on top.
It all started with Briana Flewelling’s annual exam by her obstetrician gynecologist.
“(The doctor) noticed that one of my ovaries seemed to be a bit more swollen than the other,” Flewelling said.
A specialist told Flewelling she had endometriosis. She also had a cyst on her ovary called an endometrioma and she had noncancerous masses called fibroids.
“What's going to come of it? Are we ever going to be able to conceive or not? It was definitely scary,” said Mitch Flewelling, Briana Flewelling’s husband.
Mitch Flewelling was thankful for the team of doctors at UT Health San Antonio who helped dissolve the couple’s sense of isolation. They formed a plan and Briana Flewelling went into surgery.
“They removed 18 fibroids and endometrioma,” Briana Flewelling said.
The couple hoped the surgery would allow them to conceive naturally, but the endometrioma and fibroids came back within six months.
“Normally, the older thought was we should always take out the endometriomas. But again, recent research would suggest not to remove the endometriomas may actually improve the chances of (in vitro fertilization) being successful,” said Dr. Randal Robinson, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology.
Briana Flewelling immediately started in vitro fertilization treatment and it worked.
“Once we knew we were having a baby, everything changed,” she said.
The stress and worry of 5 1/2 years of infertility disappeared.
“When you know your body, and you know there's something not right, have it checked. Get the help that you need because there is hope,” Briana Flewelling said.
Symptoms of endometriosis include abdominal pain, painful and heavy menstrual cycles and infertility. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should call their doctor.
The earlier a person catches issues such as endometriosis, the better chance a person has of success.
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