What is Endometriosis and How Does it Affect Fertility?
March 3, 2021Although most women with endometriosis can get pregnant, they face more challenges when it comes to conceiving. If you are struggling with endometriosis or suspect you may have the condition, and are concerned about your fertility, be sure to speak with your doctor.
What is Endometriosis?
During a woman’s normal menstruation cycle, the uterus sheds its endometrial lining, or endometrium. Endometriosis occurs when the endometrial lining of the uterus attaches to other organs outside the uterus.1 As this happens, the lining has no way of leaving the body and can develop into lesions or painful scar tissue. Although there is no cure for endometriosis, it is treatable.1
Primary symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, painful menstruation, pain during sexual intercourse, pain during bowel movements, pain during ovulation, lower back pain, pain during urination, fatigue, heavy or irregular bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and infertility.1
Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through surgery. Ultrasounds, MRIs, and CAT scans may be used to rule out other conditions but are not conclusive when diagnosing endometriosis.
Endometriosis affects more than 7 million women in the United States and is the leading cause of female infertility.1 While there is no cure, there are treatments that can be effective for managing symptoms of endometriosis.
Medication is one of the most common treatments for the painful symptoms of endometriosis. Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen may help ease the discomfort women experience, while stronger, prescription medications are sometimes given when the pain does not respond to over-the-counter drugs.1
Another method of endometriosis treatment is hormonal drug therapy. With this treatment, hormonal drugs are given to the patient to stop ovulation for as long as possible. This helps prevent the implanted lining tissue or lesions from becoming aggravated, which tends to occur more during ovulation. This treatment is only meant to be used for a limited time, as the side effects from the hormonal medication may cause other problems. In most cases, hormonal drug therapy is done after surgical treatment.1
Surgical treatment of endometriosis is typically done through a laparoscopy or a laparotomy to remove growths, relieve pain, and help aid in fertility. In more extreme cases, a hysterectomy may be recommended.
Some women have found success through using natural or alternative remedies. Adjusting your diet, acupuncture, massage therapy, and other homeopathic remedies may help ease the discomfort of endometriosis.1-2 Always consult a physician before beginning any form of treatment.
Endometriosis and Fertility
Up to 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis will experience infertility.3
Endometriosis can affect a woman’s fertility in several ways. Built-up scar tissue and implanted tissue from the endometrial lining that have nowhere to go can cause inflammation of the pelvic structure, scarred fallopian tubes, changes in the hormonal environment of the eggs, egg quality, and more.3
If you’re living with endometriosis or believe you may have the condition, and you want to get pregnant, it’s important that you speak with your doctor and begin treatment as soon as possible.
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