It’s estimated that endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years. While the medical community has tested different hypotheses, what we do know is that YES, endometriosis can affect fertility. Thankfully, with appropriate diagnosis and proactive treatment, conception is possible.
What is Endometriosis?
Every month, when women menstruate, the lining of the uterus (known as the endometrium) breaks down and sheds. However, with endometriosis, every month implants of endometrial tissue grow outside the uterus, sometimes on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, potentially resulting in irritation, inflammation and development of cysts, lesions and scar tissue. In addition, it can damage the fallopian tubes and even distort reproductive organs.
500,000+ Canadian girls and women are affected by endometriosis
Is Endometriosis Painful?
Like all conditions, endometriosis affects every woman differently. Some women with endometriosis don’t feel a thing. But many experience non-menstrual pelvic pain, pain during intercourse (dyspareunia), heavy menstrual bleeding, and cramping during menstruation.
Currently, there’s no cure for endometriosis in women of reproductive age, but it can be treated and it’s possible for women to manage their symptoms.
It is estimated that 30-40% of women with endometriosis may have difficulties in becoming pregnant
When it comes to fertility, endometriosis may affect your chances of becoming pregnant. Why? If your anatomy is distorted, an ovulated egg may not get properly released into the pelvis near the fallopian tube. Endometriosis can also cause scarring that blocks the fallopian tubes. Research shows that women with moderate-severe endometriosis tend to have more difficulty getting pregnant than women with minimal–mild endometriosis.
The good news is that pregnancy can still happen with endometriosis. There are lots of fertility treatments and options available.
If you suspect you have endometriosis, please go see your doctor or gynecologist. Tests like a pelvic exam and ultrasound will help your doctor diagnose your condition, better understand the potential reasons for infertility and outline your treatment options.
For women with endometriosis, trying to become pregnant may take time, and require surgery or reproductive treatments, such as In vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a good solution, as an egg is retrieved directly from the woman's ovaries, fertilized in a laboratory to become an embryo, then returned to the woman's womb to grow and develop. Knowing that endometriosis can damage reproductive organs, IVF bypasses any anatomic distortion or inflammation.
If you have endometriosis and you’re not trying to have a baby right now, you may want to look into freezing your eggs. This way you’re holding on to your healthiest eggs for later, making IVF that much easier.
There is a strong relationship between endometriosis and fertility troubles, but with early diagnosis and a team of gynecologists and fertility specialists, you can get the care you need and improve your chances of becoming pregnant.