Endometriosis and Infertility
Infertility is a condition that affects millions of couples worldwide. It is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of regular, unprotected intercourse. In women, endometriosis is a common cause of infertility. Endometriosis is a complicated condition that can cause reproductive challenges and infertility for women. About 35-40% of women with endometriosis will experience some varying degree of reproductive challenges.
Endometriosis can influence fertility in several ways:
- Distorted anatomy of the pelvis
- Pelvic adhesions
- Scarred fallopian tubes
- Inflammation of the pelvic structures
- Altered immune system functioning
- Changes in the hormonal environment of the eggs
- Impaired implantation of a pregnancy
- Altered egg quality
How does endometriosis cause infertility?
Endometriosis occurs when the uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. This tissue can adhere to surrounding organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bowel. Endometriosis causes inflammation in the pelvis which can prevent the egg and sperm from joining. Scarring (adhesions) caused by severe endometriosis may even block the fallopian tubes and ovaries, preventing the sperm and egg from meeting.
It is important to understand that women with endometriosis are NOT necessarily infertile women that will never have children. With appropriate treatment plans customized to your specific symptoms and anatomical structure, achieving pregnancy with endometriosis becomes a possibility!
Diagnosis and Testing
The most effective and reliable method in diagnosing endometriosis is through laparoscopic surgery and pathological biopsy. Based on the stage and location of endometriosis, various treatment options are available to help you become pregnant. This includes anti-inflammatory medication, hormonal medication, and minimally invasive excision of endometriosis.
Endometriosis Associated Infertility - We Can Help!
The treatment for infertile patients should be individualized depending if you have minimal or mild endometriosis, age, menstrual cycle, etc. In some cases, fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be successful in helping women with endometriosis conceive. In other cases, surgical treatment may be necessary to remove the endometrial tissue and restore fertility. Most often, endometriosis can be removed, along with any scar tissue, and your symptoms will improve, including your ability to conceive.
Endometriosis should be viewed as a chronic disease characterized by pelvic pain and associated with infertility. It requires a life-long personalized management plan with the goal of maximizing medical treatment effects and avoiding repeated surgical procedures. The treatment for endometriosis patients is essentially chosen by each individual woman, depending on symptoms, age, and fertility. For many women, adequate treatment requires a combination of treatments given over their lifetime. The current treatments include medical, surgical, or a combination of these approaches.
The relationship between endometriosis and infertility has been debated for many years. Despite extensive research, no agreement has been reached and several mechanisms have been proposed to explain the association between endometriosis and infertility. These mechanisms include distorted pelvic anatomy, endocrine and ovulatory abnormalities, altered peritoneal function, and altered hormonal and cell-mediated functions in the endometrium.
It is important for women with endometriosis to be evaluated for infertility early on, as the disease can progress over time and lead to more extensive tissue growth and scarring. In addition, early medical treatment can increase the chances of successful fertility treatments. If you’re having trouble becoming pregnant and you have endometriosis (or symptoms of endometriosis), our specialists can provide a comprehensive evaluation to determine what could be affecting your fertility.
For endometriosis-related infertility and other issues, the Endometriosis Treatment Center of America is your trusted source for reproductive medicine. Reach out now for a consultation with a compassionate member of our team. We’d love to help you explore all available options and live a pain-free life.