Endometriosis can manifest itself in different ways throughout the body. For some women, endometriosis can mean chronic pelvic pain and discomfort. For others, they may not discover they have endometriosis until they try to become pregnant and have difficulty conceiving.
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs when the tissues that normally line the inside of the uterus grow outside the uterus. While this may not initially sound like a cause for concern, having these tissues in organs such as the ovaries, bladder, or intestines can cause irritation and scarring in these places inside the body. Endometriosis can also cause cysts to develop on the ovaries which can cause discomfort.
Taking all these facts into account, having endometriosis can certainly influence fertility. However, this does not mean you will not or cannot become pregnant. Many women have endometriosis and have become pregnant and had children. Endometriosis can cause infertility for one or more of the following reasons:
- Affects a fertilized egg’s ability to implant
- Alters your pelvic anatomy
- Causes scarring in the uterus, fallopian tubes, and more
- Changes the quality of your eggs
- Changes the uterus’ hormonal environment
An estimated 30-50 percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. If you have tried to become pregnant by having unprotected sex for six months to a year and have not conceived, you may wish to see a physician who specializes in reproductive medicine. There are many causes for infertility and endometriosis can cause issues with conception.
Should you try infertility treatments?
If you have not been previously diagnosed with endometriosis, but your physician suspects you are experiencing it, he or she may recommend a procedure called a laparoscopy that involves inserting a special type of surgical device with a lighted camera on the end to view the inner lining of the uterus to look for signs of endometriosis and scar tissue. In milder cases of endometriosis, removing abnormal tissue inside the pelvis and abdomen can help to promote fertility.
One treatment option is in vitro fertilization, or IVF. This involves combining sperm and eggs in a laboratory and growing the embryos. The fertilized embryo is then implanted into the uterus.
A doctor may take several factors into account when working with you to determine the appropriate endometriosis treatment. This includes your age, severity of your condition, symptoms, and how long you have been trying to conceive.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020
- An estimated 30-50 percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility.
- Some women may not realize they have endometriosis until they have been unable to conceive.
- Treatments exist for endometriosis-related infertility, including surgery, hormone therapy, and in vitro fertilization.