About 11% of women between the ages of 11 and 44 in the US have endometriosis, and between 30-50% of women who are struggling with infertility have endometriosis. This connection is far more than coincidence as the two issues can be closely related, though not always.
To help shed some light on the link between endometriosis and fertility issues, the team of women’s health experts here at Bay Area Physicians for Women’s Health, outline the ways in which the two conditions may be connected. More importantly, we also take a look at how we can help you build the family of your dreams, even when endometriosis is proving challenging.
Under normal circumstances, the endometrial tissue, or endometrium, that lines your uterus thickens with each menstrual cycle in anticipation of receiving a fertilized egg. If an egg doesn’t come, this tissue sheds out, which is what creates your period each month.
When you have endometriosis, endometrial tissue grows outside your uterus and still undergoes the same changes with each menstrual cycle. Since this tissue isn’t able to shed out, however, it can create adhesions or implants that can attach themselves to a number of different structures and organs in your pelvis, including the:
These adhesions can pose problems in terms of fertility function, such as blocking your Fallopian tubes or interfering with your ovaries.
The problematic tissue can also cause inflammation and irritation inside your pelvis that can impede smooth functioning of your reproductive organs.
Understand that we’re discussing what can occur with more severe cases of endometriosis. It’s important to note that about 70% of women with mild-to-moderate endometriosis still get pregnant. For women with more problematic endometriosis, however, fertility can be a considerable challenge.
Among the frontline treatment options for endometriosis are hormonal medications, such as the birth control pill. This approach helps with some of the more serious side effects of the condition, namely pelvic pain and abnormal bleeding, but this treatment option isn’t ideal if you’re trying to get pregnant.
If pregnancy is your primary goal, we can turn to minimally invasive surgery to remove some of the problematic adhesions. This approach can work quite well, but you need to act quickly after the surgery to conceive as the procedure doesn’t cure your endometriosis, and new implants can form again.
Another approach is in vitro fertilization (IVF), which allows you to bypass the organs that may be affected by your endometriosis, such as your ovaries and Fallopian tubes. With IVF, your eggs are harvested and fertilized outside your body, then implanted directly into your uterus.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant and you also have endometriosis, the best way to explore your treatment options is to come see us for a full evaluation.
To get started, please contact our office in Mobile, Alabama, to set up a consultation.