Endometriosis is a very painful condition in which the endometrial tissue, the tissue which is lining the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterine cavity. This condition is very common in U.S. and more than 6 million American women are suffering from this condition. The women that are affected the most are the ones who are in the prime of their reproductive years. This is the main reason, or in other words, the factor that the disease depends the most, is the female hormone estrogen. Endometriosis is rarely found in women past their menopausal stage. The most important thing about this disease is that is mostly found in infertile women about 48 percent and only about 5 percent in fertile women. So the question arises that whether endometriosis makes you infertile or not and whether if you have this disease then should you freeze you eggs or not.
Most of the girls, or women, who have endometriosis are able to conceive or give birth to a baby if they are suffering from a mild to moderate form of the disease. But the women suffering from severe forms of the disease usually suffer from infertility, though the reasons of being infertile is not completely known or understood.
So women who are being diagnosed from mild to severe form of this disease prefer freezing their eggs so that after the treatment they can have a baby of their own either through IVF or by a surrogate mother.
Here are some of the reasons for the occurrence or cause of endometriosis:
- The actual cause is still not known, but studies shows that it is hereditary i.e. usually runs in the family.
- Estrogen and progesterone hormones released by the ovaries are the main cause for the endometrial tissue growth.
- If you are suffering from endometriosis then the tissue will also grow on other parts of the body like ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the outer surface of the uterus, on the outside of the intestines.
- Symptoms of endometriosis include: the person suffering will experience severe pain in the lower back and pelvis region, spotting between periods and fatigue.
Can I Freeze my Eggs if I Have Endometriosis?
One of the most common consequences of endometriosis is infertility, a problem that affects countless women throughout the world. Endometriosis can affect women of every age, even teenage girls and women in their early twenties who are not yet concerned about pregnancy or raising a family. Gynecologists and fertility specialists may suggest that women who are diagnosed with endometriosis freeze their eggs before they start any treatment, in case difficulties arise with becoming pregnant later in life. Most women diagnosed with endometriosis can conceive naturally, without taking any additional drugs, but there are cases when the pregnancy is impossible. These cases often occur after surgical procedures have been performed. There are numerous cases of endometriosis when one or both ovaries need to be removed, and that is often when women consider freezing their eggs.
How Do I Freeze my Eggs?
If a woman decides that she wants to freeze her eggs, her gynecologist can provide her with information and instructions about the next steps in the process. The patient will typically have to make an appointment with an internist, endocrinologist, and fertility specialist. These medical professionals examine the woman's symptoms and overall health. Sometimes, freezing a woman's eggs is simply impossible, especially if the ovaries are severely damaged. Women who take control of their reproductive health and visit their gynecologist once or twice a year are more likely to be diagnosed in the early stages of endometriosis and have the option of egg freezing. In endometriosis, endometrial tissue often blocks the movement of the eggs or impedes the path that sperm needs to take for conception. If a patient is diagnosed with endometriosis, in-vitro fertilization may be her only chance to avoid this and achieve a pregnancy. To maximize the possibility of pregnancy, she may need to freeze her eggs in hopes of a later procedure. Women who do not have severe endometriosis have the greatest chances of becoming pregnant after just their first IVF procedure.
Why is Freezing my Eggs Important?
If the ovaries are damaged by endometrial tissue, a woman's ovulation could cease completely. Women with endometriosis, even those who are not yet ready to have children, often decide to freeze their eggs in the early stages of the disease. Gynecologists often advise their patients to begin the process quickly after the final diagnosis, while the ovaries are somewhat healthy and the disease is not fully developed. This gives them the greatest possible chance of being able to have children.
How Does Egg Freezing Work?
The most common method of egg freezing is cryopreservation. First, the ovaries are stimulated with hormone injections to produce more eggs between two cycles. The eggs are then retrieved from the body by puncturing the womb and ovaries while the woman is under anesthesia. Next, the eggs are cooled to extremely low temperatures (under zero degrees Celsius). Cryopreservation is the same as the first stage of in-vitro fertilization. This procedure lasts nearly 10 days, alternating with regular visits to the fertility specialist, who examines the situation of the ovaries via an ultrasound machine. The side effects of cryopreservation that some women experience due to the various hormone therapies, are a change in moods including:
- Extreme anger
- Lasting sadness
- Increased anxiety
When women with endometriosis make the decision that they are ready to become pregnant, they should then ask for unfreezing their eggs, so that they may begin in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF carries a 2-12% average chance of fertilization for every available egg. If you are a woman that has been diagnosed with endometriosis, you definitely consider IVF as an option and consult with your family doctor and gynecologist about the procedure. Even with endometriosis, there is a great chance that a woman will never need her frozen eggs for a future IVF procedure, but it is impossible to know beforehand how much damage may be done to the reproductive system when trying to cure the disease.