If you are living with endometriosis and wondering about the impact it has on your fertility, you’re not alone. Doctors have diagnosed more than 200 million women around the world with this condition, and many more may be living with their symptoms undiagnosed.
Many women aren’t diagnosed with endometriosis until they experience issues with infertility. About half of all women with endometriosis struggle to get pregnant, and the condition is one of the top causes of infertility around the world.
All the information on endometriosis can be overwhelming. That’s why the compassionate care team at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG in Las Vegas, Nevada, wants you to know the top three things about fertility with endometriosis.
We specialize in diagnosing and treating endometriosis, and our providers offer different options for managing your symptoms and increasing your chances of a successful pregnancy.
Before getting into the specific ways endometriosis impacts fertility, let’s first understand the condition and how it impacts your body.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that normally makes up the lining of your uterus, called the endometrium, grows in places other than the womb. For example, it can grow on your fallopian tubes, ovaries, nearby intestines, and other areas inside your body.
Throughout your menstrual cycle, the endometrium grows and thickens, preparing your uterus for the implantation of a fertilized egg. If you don’t become pregnant, this lining is shed and you get your period.
For women with endometriosis, the endometrial tissue outside the uterus follows this same cycle. In response to the hormone changes caused by your menstrual cycle, it grows, thickens, and attempts to leave your body.
However, endometrial tissue outside your womb does not have a path to leave your body. This results in the tissue irritating nearby organs and other tissues, which can be very painful. This also results in scar tissue, adhesions, and ovarian cysts.
Three ways endometriosis impacts fertility
The impact endometriosis has on your fertility depends on several different factors. Problems conceiving can be the result of one or a combination of these factors.
One condition of endometriosis is an inflamed endometrial lining. When the endometrial lining is inflamed, it produces molecules called cytokines. These cytokines negatively affect the egg and sperm, making them paralyzed. This prevents fertilization.
2. Scar tissue
The endometrial tissue growing outside the womb creates lesions and can damage your healthy uterine tissue. Due to this, your body can develop scar tissue. This scar tissue may obstruct the pathways in which sperm travel to fertilize the egg, so it may interfere with fertilization and your ability to get pregnant.
3. Obstructed ovaries
The inflammation in your endometrial tissue and the scar tissue in your uterus may obstruct your fallopian tubes. Obstructed fallopian tubes prevent the release of your eggs. This makes it impossible to conceive.
More than just contributing to difficulty conceiving, these problems, unfortunately, increase your risk of miscarriage once pregnant.
Treatments for endometriosis and fertility
Fortunately, there is some good news for women wanting to get pregnant with endometriosis. There are many different treatment options available that can help you manage the symptoms of endometriosis and help you maintain your fertility.
Your provider completes a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which includes bloodwork and ultrasounds, and recommends a customized treatment plan to address the condition(s) impacting your fertility. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and their impact on your daily life, as well as where you are in your infertility journey, different options may apply.
If your endometriosis is mild to moderate, key lifestyle changes can help. These include eating a balanced, whole-food diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress.
If you aren’t trying to get pregnant, birth control methods such as an IUD can help prevent the accumulation of more scar tissue. This can be effective in helping you get pregnant when you are ready.
If you are trying to get pregnant but haven’t been successful, a medicine called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist stops endometriosis from progressing. After completion of GnRH treatment, your normal menstrual cycle resumes, and your chance of getting pregnant increases.
When non-invasive treatments aren’t successful, your provider may recommend surgery. Robotic-assisted surgeries can detach endometrial implants, remove scar tissue, and destroy implants using electrical energy. This treatment corrects endometriosis and can unblock obstructed fallopian tubes.
If fertility drugs or surgery still don’t improve fertility, in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination may be considered.
If you are struggling with endometriosis or fertility, the reproductive health experts at Darin Swainston MD. FACOG are here to help. Book an appointment online or give us a call at our Las Vegas, Nevada office today.