The Low-Down On Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a common reproductive condition affecting about 1 in 10 women. A woman’s uterus has an endometrium, a lining that supports the embryo during pregnancy. This lining changes in thickness according to the woman’s menstrual cycle. Endometriosis occurs where similar endometrium tissue forms outside of the uterus. The condition is not life-threatening and can happen during a woman’s reproductive years. However, endometriosis can lead to pregnancy challenges.
Symptoms of endometriosis
With endometriosis, the tissue forms near the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and even the abdomen. Some women have endometriosis at an early age with no real symptoms. Others will experience abdominal pain, painful periods, irregular bleeding, and pain during intercourse. An OB/GYN can diagnose endometriosis with physical exams and imaging. Scientists have yet to find a root cause, but most cases are linked to genetics and environmental toxins.
Can endometriosis affect my fertility?
Women diagnosed with endometriosis can feel a wave of distress. Some of these women have hopes of starting or growing a family. Is getting pregnant with this condition even possible? Yes, endometriosis significantly reduces the chances of pregnancy, but getting pregnant is still possible. Up to 50% of women may have infertility as a result of endometriosis. The endometrial tissue can obstruct the fallopian tubes making pregnancy difficult. Scar tissue, inflammation, and poor egg quality can also occur.
Can I get pregnant?
Despite the diagnosis, there are ways for women to start and grow a family. First, however, the condition must be identified and treated quickly. A doctor may begin with a combination of pain management and hormone medication. In some cases, minimally invasive surgery can help remove the tissue affecting the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Over time, at least 7 months in most cases, some women can get pregnant naturally. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) can help if pregnancy is still difficult.
The power of ART
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the popular forms of ART. Before IVF, the doctor may try intrauterine insemination (IUI). IUI involves manually placing a prepared sperm sample in the woman’s uterus. This process is timed with ovulation. If IUI fails, IVF is the next step. IVF involves creating an embryo using eggs extracted from the woman’s ovaries. Each egg is combined with sperm to form the embryo. A healthy embryo is then implanted, with the others frozen for future use. ART can improve pregnancy outcomes, but the success rate depends on the severity of endometriosis.
Get treatment, start a family
Endometriosis can cause severe long-term damage to reproductive organs. The result for many women is a flurry of unwanted symptoms, including infertility. These can significantly impact the quality of life. Getting treatment for the condition must come before pregnancy. The future mother’s health is at stake. When all is clear, ART options are available. These techniques mean better outcomes and happier patients.