Endometriosis is among the most common health problems in women and can negatively affect fertility rates for many. This condition is the result of large and painful lesions in the pelvic cavity. When these lesions trigger the development of excessive scar tissues and adhesions, the woman may have difficulty conceiving or may not be able to have children at all.
Here’s what you need to know about the effects of endemetriosis on infertility:
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when there is excessive cell growth of inside or on top of the uterus. When the cells grow outside the uterus, they are called endometriosis implants, and can be found on the surface of the intestine, on the ovaries, and on the Fallopian tubes. In some rare cases, endometrial cells are found in the bladder, vagina and cervix. This condition affects women in their reproductive years, and approximately 3 to 18 percent of women in the United States suffer from it. Most women realize they have it after seeing a doctor about excessive pelvic pain.
How Endometriosis Affects Fertility Rates
Endometriosis is one of the key reasons for infertility in couples who have otherwise no known fertility problems. Doctors typically find endometrial implants after performing a laparoscopic examination of the pelvis. The decrease in fertility is traced to the presence of the masses of tissue on the Fallopian tubes and uterus, as these masses make it difficult for the eggs to be transported from the ovaries. Endometriosis may also affect the production of certain hormones that are necessary for the ovulation and fertilization process, or the implantation of the embryo.
Treatment of Endemetriosis
Both mild and severe conditions of endemetriosis can be treated with certain types of drugs and surgical removal of lesions. The treatment process must be individualized for each woman, and the final treatment recommendation depends largely on the age of the woman, the amount of time she has been infertile, and the location of the disease in the pelvis.
Women with mild endometriosis can be treated with drugs that suppress endometriosis and help to reduce pain. Some women may also benefit from the surgical removal of lesions by laparoscopy. To increase fertility, a woman may be a good candidate for controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with intrauterine insemination. In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be another option.
Women with moderate to severe endometriosis may be better suited for surgical treatment and medical suppression with prescription drugs such as Synarel, Zoladex or Lupron. After treatment, a woman may still experience a low fertility rate. If the pelvic anatomy has become severely distorted, the best way to increase fertility may be with in vitro fertilization.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, you may need to see a fertility specialist to weigh different options for increasing fertility rates. Learn more about the latest fertility treatment options in our information guide, or consult with a fertility specialist in your area to find out if you may be a good candidate for in vitro fertilization or controlled ovarian hyperstimulation after treatment of endometriosis.