Endometriosis is a condition that can affect any woman at any age after they start menstruating. This condition is characterized by the outgrowth of the endometrial tissues in the uterus. There are many consequences of endometriosis that can occur if the condition is left untreated or if its treatment is not done appropriately. Infertility is one of the main problems that women diagnosed with endometriosis have. Endometriosis affects the reproductive system and that is why some women have complications with getting pregnant. If the woman is diagnosed with endometriosis, she should visit her gynecologist more often than usual. If there is a problem with fertility that is longer than one year, the woman should visit a fertility specialist. Sometimes there is a great possibility for natural conceiving, but the pregnancy rates with women with endometriosis are bigger when IVF procedure is done.
These are the statistic numbers for endometriosis:
- Only 5-10% of women have endometriosis and most of them are fertile
- 30-40% of the infertile women are also diagnosed with endometriosis
There are many available treatments that can help to ease the symptoms of endometriosis, including infertility. If the patient wants to get pregnant, the gynecologist will try to stimulate the ovaries with birth-control pills or some other hormone therapy. Endometriosis can affect fertility in many different ways:
- The anatomy of the pelvis can be changed
- It may cause several inflammations in the pelvis
- Changes in the immune system are very likely to happen
The occurrence of infertility with endometriosis is due to the interference of the outgrowths of endometrial tissues with the normal functioning of the reproductive organs, i.e. with the ovaries and fallopian tubes. The endometrial tissues that are normally found in the uterus are broken down during the menstrual cycle and so are the endometrial tissues growing outside the uterus in women with endometriosis. The problem that occurs here is that the latter are not removed from the body like the normal endometrial tissue; thereby, causing the abdominal cavity and other areas to get inflamed, leading to fusion of organs (by forming bands of scar tissues), formation of painful lesions and blood-filled cysts. The release of egg or ovum could be prevented if these persistent endometrial tissues are formed around the ovaries, or the fusion of egg and sperm can be prevented if these are formed around the fallopian tubes, thereby preventing fertilization.
The formation of endometrial tissues around the reproductive organs not only obstructs, or blocks, the pathways but also alters chemicals that helps the egg to prepare for fertilization, and changes the normal hormonal balance and normal bio-chemistry of the reproductive system. This makes it difficult to treat this condition by just a simple surgery.
Endometriosis can be treated with laparoscopic surgery when the tissues that affect reproductive organs are surgically removed from the body. This procedure may increase the chances of pregnancy after the recovery. If the woman is still not able to get pregnant in a natural way, she may need to use insemination or in vitro fertilization. There is no evidence that endometriosis will cause problems after the woman gets pregnant and she can expect that the pregnancy will be normal.
The cruel reality is that many women that are diagnosed with some form of endometriosis have difficulties with getting pregnant. The success of IVF procedures is very high in these cases, but there are also big chances that the fertilization will end up with a miscarriage. This is the reason why pregnant women, previously diagnosed with endometriosis, should visit their gynecologist, fertility specialists, and endocrinologist during the pregnancy.
Infertility can cause many mental and emotional problems too. The families of the women diagnosed with endometriosis should be informed about the condition and all of the health problems that it may bring, including infertility. Infertile women who have endometriosis need the full emotional and physical support from their closest people. The spouses also have to be very supportive of their partner and give them full support in the time they are trying to conceive.
It is completely a personal decision of a woman with endometriosis to pursue pregnancy or not. There are various factors that can determine this decision including the age (quantity and quality of the ova is affected without any role of endometriosis) of the women, the prevalence of endometriosis and the severity of the condition. Hereditary factors can also influence this decision. One should keep in mind that there is no valid evidence supporting that the occurrence of endometriosis in mothers can be genetically passed onto their daughters but there are certain studies which have shown that the risk of endometriosis in girls increase if their mothers had this condition. However, this can also result due to environmental factors, but there is no valid evidence.
Getting pregnant while having endometriosis can be very hard, but you should remember that is not impossible. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist and follow their advice. The procedure may be very long and you may need to take birth control pills or some other hormone-based drugs to increase the chances of pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to go “under a knife” if a surgery is needed. Endometriosis is still a mystery for both doctors and patients because there are no exact researchers that have determined the reasons, causes, and ways to cure this disease. The good news is that there is great progress in the endometriosis treatments, compared with just a few years ago. Many women diagnosed with endometriosis succeed to have more than one child, even in their middle 30s.
There is no guarantee that you will get pregnant, but medicine goes further with researchers and discoveries about the endometriosis. So, there are still good reasons to never give up in your attempts to get pregnant in a natural way or with IVF procedure. Also, it should be kept in mind that the changes in secretion of hormones during the pregnancy and lactation period can help in decreasing the symptoms of endometriosis; thus a woman can try to get pregnant with this condition.