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March 15, 2016 | OB/GYN • Women and Children's Center
“Having endometriosis does not mean you are infertile. Between 30% and 40% of women with endometriosis may not be able to have children but many women with endometriosis become pregnant naturally or with reproductive assistance.” -Gabrielle Jackson, The Guardian
While infertility is a distinct possibility for women suffering from endometriosis, it is not a guarantee. According to G. David Adamson, MD, director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California and board member of the World Endometriosis Research Foundation, “about one-third of women with endometriosis will readily conceive without any fertility treatment at all.” Considering the litany of intense symptoms, this piece of information is one bright spot for women who plan to conceive. Even if you do experience difficulties with conception, meaning that you try to become pregnant for one year without success, there is still hope. Dr. Adamson notes that many women, with treatment from their caregiver, eventually do become pregnant, in spite of having endometriosis.
Endometriosis affects fertility when the stray tissue — usually lining the uterus and womb — begins to entangle itself and impede the work of reproductive organs.
One example of such interference, per Everyday Health, is when endometrial tissue forms around the ovaries, preventing the release of eggs. If this tissue wraps itself around the fallopian tubes, it will bar sperm from reaching the egg, and it can also keep the egg traveling to and implanting itself in the uterine wall.
1/3 of women with endometriosis will readily conceive without any fertility treatment at all.
Unfortunately, these structural impedances are not the only complications at work. The more complex and troubling complications involve the bio-chemical problems and hormonal imbalances that these conditions can stir.
Women with endometriosis also experience inflammation, which may stem from an underlying immune condition, according to the Healthy Women website. When the body detects a problem like endometriosis, the body deploys chemicals called cytokines to help fix the issue. However, the presence of these anti-inflammatory chemicals may adversely affect fertility efforts, as well as the outcome of the pregnancy. Studies are now focusing on finding a way to treat women for endometriosis before trying to conceive.
The most important thing you can do when you want to become pregnant is to make regular visits to your gynecologic specialist for endometrial care. It is also important to let your doctor know your concerns and hopes for having children as soon as you know you want to. The better advanced preparation you have available, the better you can prepare your body. Once you and your medical professional set out for your task, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances at conception, including:
IVF and other similar reproductive treatments are a good option for women to consider pursuing when trying to conceive while dealing with endometriosis. It is important to note, though, that women with endometriosis experience about 50 percent less conception success than women receiving IVF treatments for other reasons.
Adamson reports that surgery to remove endometrial lesions can improve chances for conception from 30 to 80 percent. However, while there are fewer risks than rewards associated with surgery, the risks are real and can cause damage since surgery can sometimes increase endometrial symptoms. Patients may experience a decrease in blood flow, creating additional scar tissue, worse than that associated with endometriosis.
American Pregnancy states that, while there is no cure for endometriosis, pregnancy can sometimes lessen the pain and reduce other symptoms for some women.
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.