SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility.
It’s a female reproductive condition that affects about 7 million women in the United States.
Due to the range of symptoms, it could take years to get the right diagnosis.
Often, women don’t know they have it until they try to start a family.
That was the case for one Springfield woman.
After more than a year of trying to get pregnant, Ashley Cossins and her husband Derek knew something wasn’t right.
“In my experience, three weeks out of the four in a month– I was not feeling well at all,” Cossins said.
Ashley received a diagnosis from her OBGYN after performing a diagnostic surgery in Springfield where they found and treated endometriosis.
When the surgery didn’t resolve their infertility issues they were referred to a reproductive endocrinologist in St. Louis.
One of the most common symptoms is severe pain during a menstrual cycle.
But like Ashley, some women can also have pain outside their menstrual period.
“Endometriosis is when the cells inside the uterus somehow escape the uterus and it begins to grow implants in and around the other organs of the body,” Cossins explains. “on the abdominal wall. It does also create scar tissue and adhesions, which can distort pelvic anatomy. There’s a lot unknown about endometriosis and how it prevents fertility.”
There is currently no cure, researchers are also still working to understand how the process happens.
There is still a way to reduce the symptoms.
Ashley has now undergone three surgeries to do so and to prep her body for in-vitro fertilization.
“We did pursue the course of IVF. The reason being is because I was ovulating every month, my hormone levels checked out perfectly.” Said Cossins. “There’s no clear signs of anatomy proportion to where it wouldn’t support a pregnancy.”
According to Dr. Mary Duff, with the Ferrel Duncan Clinic in Springfield, every couple is different.
“The goal is not to jump straight to in-vitro, so each couple needs to be evaluated.”
In Ashley’s case, after being diagnosed with Endometriosis, her doctor recommended IVF.
When I heard my reproductive endocrinologist say we should move forward to IVF, my heart sank.” Cossins said. “I had heard stories of them (the cycles) costing thousands of dollars and people just choosing to go a different path, and that’s what I was prepared to do.”
Cossins’s insurance covered the intro fertilization costs which allowed her to undergo the surgery two different times, but neither was successful.
Arkansas is one of 15 states that has passed a law mandating coverage for infertility, but some loopholes exempt self-insured companies from providing the benefit.
In Missouri, fertility coverage is not mandated, so employers determine if they want to provide that coverage.
“A lot of people take out second mortgages. I pulled a 401k loan to pull for some of these things” Said Cossins.
Ashley says she plans to go back to IVF again later this year using what she’s learned to hopefully improve her chances.