Can Endometriosis Cause Infertility?

Endometriosis is a painful gynecological condition that causes painful periods. It affects more than 11% of American women, most of them in their 30s and 40s, but can impact girls as young as 15. Because of changes in hormones, endometriosis rarely affects women over the age of 45. 

Having endometriosis may make it more difficult to become pregnant. The good news is that various treatment options can help manage your symptoms and boost your chances of getting pregnant.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally grows in the uterus grows outside of the uterus where it doesn’t belong. Each month your body sheds the lining of the uterus if conception doesn’t occur. This process is normally harmless except for minor symptoms like cramping. 

In women with endometriosis, the tissue that lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body, such as the abdomen. In some cases it even attaches to other organs. As your hormones stimulate your endometrial tissue to grow and shed, the extra tissue is also stimulated. This causes very painful symptoms including:

Endometriosis can also cause: 

Why does endometriosis cause problems?

When the lining of your uterus swells and sheds, it leaves the body during your monthly period through the vaginal canal. When you have endometriosis, the extra tissue that grows outside of your womb swells and bleeds just like the lining of the uterus does each month, however, it’s in an area where it cannot exit the body easily. As a result, you experience pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.

How endometriosis interferes with fertility

In some women, endometriosis can cause inflammation and scar tissue to form. If scar tissue blocks the fallopian tubes or grows into the ovaries, it can make it harder to become pregnant. If you have endometriosis and are considering becoming pregnant or have started trying, discuss your concerns with your Capital Women’s Care provider.

We classify infertility as the inability to become pregnant after six months to a year of trying, depending on your age and other factors. We can help you with proper evaluation of both endometriosis and fertility problems. Our highly skilled OB/GYNs work together with you to create a plan of action to manage your symptoms and improve your fertility.

Endometriosis and other health conditions

Research has linked endometriosis to various immune conditions. Women with endometriosis are at an increased risk for:

If you have endometriosis, it’s wise to discuss screening for autoimmune diseases. Diagnosing and treating other conditions can help you feel better and may contribute to boosting your chances of getting pregnant.

The severity of endometriosis impacts fertility

Studies show that the more severe your endometriosis, the more difficult it may be to become pregnant. To evaluate severity of endometriosis we use the following staging system:

There is no scarring seen in stages 1 and 2, so it may be easier to get pregnant with these milder types of endometriosis. On the other hand, stages 3 and 4 are associated with scar tissue and cysts, making it easier to understand why pregnancy may become more difficult.

Improving your fertility

In women with stage 3 and 4 endometriosis, surgical treatment to remove the extra tissue and cysts can help boost the chances of conceiving. If surgical treatment isn’t enough, your provider may recommend in vitro fertilization. Before starting any fertility treatment, your Capital Women’s Care provider performs a complete fertility evaluation.

If you have endometriosis, all hope of having a baby isn’t lost. Many women with endometriosis have healthy pregnancies and deliveries. 

Coming in to meet with one of our providers is a good first step. Contact one of our offices in McLean or Arlington, Virginia, to schedule your visit. You can also book online using our convenient scheduling tool.

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