Women who were pregnant between 1938 and 1971 were commonly given diethylstilbestrol (DES) by their doctors. DES is a synthetic estrogen. Doctors used to believe that DES helped to reduce the number of miscarriages and premature births that women were experiencing. If your mother was given DES, then you may experience some infertility problems or other health complications as a result.
First, try to determine if your mother was given DES during her pregnancy with you. This may be hard to determine because it may have happened so long ago. Also, many doctors just told their patients that they were taking vitamins. The really sad part about this is that DES exposure can cause cancer and infertility in the women that took it, as well as their children. If you determine that you were exposed to DES, then you should inform your doctor or infertility specialist so that special care can be taken, especially during infertility treatment.
Being exposed to DES in utero puts women at a higher risk for pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies, miscarriage or premature deliveries. This does not mean that you are incapable of becoming pregnant and carrying to term if you have been exposed to DES. Many women do become pregnant and carry to term despite their exposure. The reasons that DES has negative effects on women are not entirely clear. It is widely believed that the DES exposure affects the formation of the cervix. If this is true, then it can explain why exposed women have a higher number of miscarriages than non-exposed women.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to DES, then it is very important to work closely with your family physician or infertility specialist. Your doctor should order screenings to see if you have any of the negative health effects of DES exposure. Breast exams and mammograms should be performed regularly. Self breast exams should be performed at least monthly so that you can catch changes early. You should receive regular pelvic exams and PAP smears. Your doctor may do an extra type of PAP smear to check for clear cell adencarcinoma, believed to be caused by DES exposure.
Clear cell adencarcinoma is the type of cancer believed to be linked to DES exposure. This is a rare type of cancer that affects the vagina and cervix. Survival rates are very high for this type of cancer. The most common treatment for clear cell adencarcinoma is surgery. The surgery usually includes the removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. Occasionally the vagina, or parts of the vagina, must also be removed. The surrounding lymph glands may also be removed. Radiation may also be used to treat the cancer.
Work closely with a caring physician or infertility specialist that understands what you could be facing. If it is determined that you were exposed to DES, then you will need special health care as well as special pregnancy monitoring in your quest to conquer infertility.
On occasion, patients of Dr. Daiter, Eric have offered their testimonials for other couples seeking quality infertility treatment. This testimonial may help you with your decision when you are choosing a reproductive endocrinologist for your infertility treatment.
Dr. Daiter, Eric was always discussing with us where we were and what our next options were. He explained all the various treatments from mildly aggressive to very aggressive and worked with us to come up with a plan that we all felt comfortable with. I always felt like he kept me very well informed so that I could make intelligent choices. He always personally called me when ever I had some tests done, as soon as he got the results and discussed them. This was usually within a day of the tests being done. That really stood out in my mind because, with all my other doctors, when I have lab work done, it takes a good week before I hear anything from them. Even then, many times their policy is to have the office staff call only when there is a problem. You can only hope that nothing was overlooked.
I spoke to other people who were going to other Infertility Specialists in the area and they said their doctors would only discuss the test results after a whole series of tests were done. The patients expressed that the doctors made them feel rushed and uncomfortable asking a lot of questions. They also expressed that the office staff was rude and abrupt with them when they called with questions. I was very fortunate – I never felt this way with Dr. Daiter, Eric or his office staff.
Tags: cancer, DES, doctors, estrogen, Exposure, Infertility, infertility problems, infertility treatment, pregnancy complications, premature births, synthetic estrogen, women | Category: Infertility, News & Education |