What is endometriosis and how does it affect fertility and your ability to get pregnant?

endometriosis
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Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that lines inside of the uterus — the endometrium — grows outside of your womb and on other areas in your body where it doesn’t belong.

Endometriosis is often found in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue outside of your uterus. However, sometimes we can also find in the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum. Rarely, endometriosis appears in other parts of the body, such as the lungs, brain, and skin.

Endometriosis affects more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s and may make it harder to get pregnant.

Can endometriosis cause infertility?

Although it is possible for women who have endometriosis to get pregnant, it definitely makes it harder. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that this condition: may affect as many as one in every two women with infertility.

For pregnancy to occur, an egg must be released from an ovary, travel through the neighboring fallopian tube, become fertilized by a sperm cell and attach itself to the uterine wall to begin development.

The inflammation and irritation caused by the endometriosis can affect fertility. Inflammation of the fimbria, which picks up the egg and transports it into the fallopian tube, causes swelling and scarring so the egg may not reach its destination. The condition can also damage the sperm or the egg, and may also block the fallopian tubes and keep the egg and sperm from uniting.

However, women with mild to moderate endometriosis can still conceive and carry a pregnancy to term without complications. Doctors advise women experiencing this not to delay having children since the condition tends to worsen over time.

Overcoming infertility due to endometriosis?

While endometriosis can prevent a woman from getting pregnant, by treating the condition itself, patients find that their fertility chances can improve. Although no doctor can guarantee that deep-excision surgery to treat this issue will be a success, pairing it with any of the following assisted reproductive technologies (ART), can give the hope of bearing children:

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): the most common form of ART, in which a woman’s eggs are collected and fertilized by sperm in a lab, then implanted in her uterus. Learn more about IVF success rates

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): This method injects a healthy sperm cell directly into the uterus to ensure implantation with proper timing during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Symptoms of endometriosis

It typically comes with pelvic pain, which is often associated with the menstrual period. Many women experience cramping during their menstrual period. Women with endometriosis usually describe menstrual pain that’s far worse than usual. They also tend to report that the pain increases over time.

Other signs and symptoms of endometriosis can include:

  • Pelvic pain and cramping before your period and several days into your period. Pelvic pain may come along with lower back and abdominal pain.
  • Pain during or after intercourse.
  • Pain with bowel movements or urination.
  • Excessive bleeding during or between periods.
  • Other symptoms may include bloating or nausea, fatigue, constipation, and diarrhea, especially during menstrual periods.

Are you at risk of developing endometriosis?

Several factors might put you at a higher risk of developing endometriosis. Here is a comprehensive list for you to be aware of:

  1. Starting your period at an early age.
  2. Going through menopause at an older age.
  3. Never have given birth.
  4. Short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days).
  5. Having higher levels of estrogen in your body.
  6. Low body mass index (BMI).
  7. Having relatives who have had this condition.
  8. Uterine abnormalities.
  9. Heavy alcohol consumption.

Symptoms end temporarily with pregnancy and end permanently with menopause unless you’re taking estrogen.

When should you see a doctor?

If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should pay a visit to your doctor or see your gynecologist, who specializes in the health of your ovaries, uterus, and other parts of your female reproductive system.

Although there is no cure for this condition, medicine and surgery may be able to help you cope with the symptoms.

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