Specialists Said She'd Never Have a Child; 3 Weeks After
Endometriosis Surgery, Stacy Ledford Was Pregnant
Thomas L. Lyons, MD, Reversed 17 Years
of Frustration with Endo Excision
ATLANTA, GA--“After 17 years of
trying, it was almost surreal that she was pregnant. We were thrilled!”
said Richard Ledford, husband of Stacy Ledford, who conceived their
one-year-old daughter Caroline Scarlett at age 39 in 2007.
The couple had undergone
fertility treatments including artificial insemination twice, as well as
in vitro fertilization, over two-and-a-half frustrating years.
“When the in vitro fertilization
didn’t work, they said I had ovarian failure; that it was not possible
for me to conceive, and that I’d have to get a donor egg,” said Stacy.
“I was totally devastated. How could this happen to us?”
The couple decided that the
health and financial toll was becoming too great, and they’d cease their
efforts to conceive their own child.
“But I had a coworker who told
me not to give up,” said Stacy, who worked for 20 years as a respiratory
therapist. Now working at home, she raises their precious baby Scarlett
and runs their farm in Adairsville, GA. “She said I needed to find
She Sought Dr. Lyons’ Help to Relieve Pelvic Pain
No one, including the fertility
specialists, had ever diagnosed Stacy with endometriosis, but she knew
that her chronic pelvic pain during menstruation and ovulation seemed to
get worse, and that these were symptoms of endometriosis.
“I searched the Internet for the
best endo specialist in Atlanta; after I got on his site and read
patient testimonials and watched the videos, I didn’t even consider
another physician for this problem,” said Stacy.
Endometriosis occurs when
endometrial tissue, the tissue that lines the uterus and is shed during
menstruation, grows outside the uterus. When this growth occurs,
endometrial tissue can develop painful implants which are most common on
the ovaries, the fallopian tubes and the ligaments that support the
uterus. Other possible sites for endometrial growths are the bladder,
bowel and vagina, throughout the abdominal cavity and even up to the
“I think endometriosis can play
a role in infertility, but it’s not the primary role,” said Dr. Lyons,
What to Do When the Doctor Says It’s Endometriosis or Fibroids:
Everything You Need to Know to Stop the Pain and Heal Your Fertility
(Fair Winds Press).
Often, women take birth control
pills to suppress pelvic pain by suppressing levels of estrogen and
progesterone, which stimulate endometrial growth. During that time,
obviously they can’t conceive, and in the late 30s they may decide to
try to have a child.
“Hopefully, when they stop the
pill they aren’t hurting from the endo any longer,” said Dr. Lyons, “but
now the fertility rate is lower—and thus they often blame their
inability to conceive on the endometriosis.”
In addition, some of the
byproducts of endometriosis can affect the man’s sperm motility, so the
problem is exacerbated.
One in Three Women Have Endometriosis
One of the most puzzling
conditions affecting women, the cause of endometriosis is not yet known.
The most common theory, however, is that "retrograde menstruation"
causes some of the menstrual tissue to back up through the fallopian
tubes and implant in the abdomen. Endometrial cells in the menstrual
fluid may then attach themselves to various sites in the pelvic cavity
and cause growths.
Stacy Ledford had Stage III
endometriosis. In general, symptoms include pre-menstrual and menstrual
pain, heavy or irregular bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse and
urinary or bowel problems in conjunction with menstruation. In more
serious cases, scar tissue may form on the ovary or fallopian tubes,
thus causing infertility.
“Her case required aggressive
surgical excision, but we preserved the ovaries, fallopian tubes and
uterus,” said Dr. Lyons. He is one of the few GYNs in the U.S. who
perform surgical excision, rather than merely lasering off the surface
of the disease.
Surgical excision involves
cutting out the roots of the disease, much deeper than lasering off the
surface. Surface ablation can enable it to grow back, just like weeds
that have merely been mowed. According to Dr. Lyons, many patients have
had four or five laser treatments, which can create scarring over the
area—and an even larger problem. However, after a thorough surgical
excision, they’re pain free for ten years or more.
Dr. Lyons explained that the
procedure is done through tiny incisions, using minimally invasive
surgery, thus less visible scarring on the abdomen. The patient’s pain
may be alleviated immediately. “Often we find them at the mall the next
day,” he laughed.
Planning Immediate Pregnancy?
“If people are not immediately
planning pregnancy, we put them on birth control pills. If they want to
try to get pregnant, we tell them to go for it—we just don’t expect it
to happen that quickly!” said Dr. Lyons.
Stacy couldn’t believe her eyes
either, and in fact gave herself three pregnancy tests before she
believed it was true. She was pregnant three weeks after her endo
“If women have similar symptoms,
they should get a second opinion, because even if people are experts,
they make mistakes. How many women have been given devastating news and
are led down the wrong path? I’d hate to think anyone would miss the
opportunity to have their own child. I’d always refer anyone with these
symptoms to Dr. Lyons. I still can’t believe we have our precious
daughter!” she and Richard smiled.
Dr. Lyons, who has been treating
women with endometriosis for more than 25 years, says that communication
with your doctor is key.
“Although there is no cure,
treatment options abound. There are many possibilities for pain
relief. A careful assessment of your unique symptoms along with a
physical exam should point the way for your doctor to help improve your
quality of life. Be responsible for getting the treatment you desire.
You and your loved ones all will benefit,” he said.
Patients seek out
Dr. Lyons from around the world for the advanced gynecological
procedures he has developed, including the laparoscopic supracervical
hysterectomy and the laparoscopic Burch procedure. He also trains
surgeons worldwide in these procedures.
Email the Center for Women's Care
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