Does endometriosis cause infertility?
Sunday, March 8th, 2020
March is considered to be Endometriosis Awareness Month, the aim of this awareness is to highlight the symptoms of this debilitating condition that affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide. Endometriosis can have a devastating effect on the quality of life of sufferers of this condition due to the painful symptoms that the disease carries and the fact that it is one of the biggest causes of infertility in women.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue much like endometrial tissue (the inner lining of the uterus) migrates to areas outside the uterus, like the ovaries and the Fallopian tubes. Endometrial like cells may transport to other parts of the body as well. The tissue is linked to the woman’s hormonal cycle. However, unlike a period, the tissue remains within the body and bleeds forming adhesions, lesions and blood-filled cysts.
Endometriosis usually develops several years after the onset of menstruation. Signs and symptoms of endometriosis may temporarily improve with pregnancy and may go away completely with menopause, unless you're taking estrogen.
The symptoms of endometriosis can be similar to the symptoms of other conditions, such as ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease. Treating your pain requires an accurate diagnosis.
- Painful periods.
- Pain with ovulation.
- Pain with intercourse.
- Painful cramps.
- Excessive bleeding.
- Low back pain.
- Pain with bowel movements or urination.
With timely intervention and early detection, patients can have a chance at attempting to manage their symptoms before turning to surgery.
The link between endometriosis and infertility
The main complication of endometriosis is impaired fertility. Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.
Inflammation causes the production of chemicals known as cytokines. These cytokines can inhibit the sperm and egg cells, making fertilization more difficult.
Scarring and adhesions that occur with endometriosis can block the fallopian tubes or uterus, making it difficult for the sperm to meet the egg. Endometrial tissue on the ovaries can inhibit ovulation, preventing the release of an egg.
Even so, many with mild to moderate endometriosis can still conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Doctors sometimes advise those with endometriosis not to delay having children because the condition may worsen with time.
There are many different treatment options to help manage endometriosis. These treatments may change if a person is pregnant or trying to get pregnant:
- Pain medication.
- Infertility treatments.
- Surgery to the endometrial lesions.