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How Endometriosis Affects Your Fertility

endometriosis and fertility in womenEndometriosis and female fertility are closely connected. Here’s what the experts say about the effects of endometriosis on getting pregnant.

“Approximately 80% to 85% of couples who are trying to become pregnant will successfully conceive within a year,” write John Gordon, MD and Michael DiMattina, MD in 100 Questions & Answers About Infertility. “Thus infertility is defined as the inability to achieve a pregnancy within 12 months of unprotected intercourse.”

Endometriosis has the potential to lead to infertility. Read Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet by Carolyn Levett if you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis – because what you eat has a direct effect on your health, body, and even your mood. You might also want to read What to Eat for a Normal Menstrual Cycle.

And, read on to learn how endometriosis affects female fertility rates.

How Endometriosis Affects Female Fertility

If you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis, you need to learn how it affects your fertility levels and ability to conceive.

What is endometriosis?

“Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial-like tissue located outside of the uterine cavity,” write Gordon and DiMattina in 100 Questions & Answers About Infertility. “Most commonly, it’s located on the ovaries, but it can also be found on any of the organs inside the pelvic-abdominal cavities.”

The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but it may arise when your period is obstructed, resulting in “retrograde menstrual flow into the tubes and pelvic cavity.” The result? Inflammation of the reproductive organs, which leads to pain, painful periods (dysmenorrheal), and possibly female infertility. Scar tissue may develop.

Does endometriosis surgery improve female fertility rates?

Yes! “Well-designed medical studies clearly show that destroying even small amounts of endometriotic tissue can improve fertility by as much as 50%,” write Gordon and DiMattina. The monthly pregnancy rate in one large Canadian study following surgery for endometriosis rose from 3% to 4.5%.

However, these doctors compare female fertility after endometriosis surgery to IVF pregnancy rates, which average around 30% for a single treatment cycle, and find that IVF pregnancy rates are more favorable.

“In addition to improving fertility, surgery may often eliminate or improve symptoms of dysmenorrheal and pelvic pain,” write Gordon and DiMattina in 100 Questions & Answers About Infertility.

Medications that treat endometriosis and help with pregnancy

How Endometriosis Affects Your FertilityOne common medical treatment for endometriosis is the oral contraceptive pill (The Pill), which can suppress the endometriotic lesions. They reduce pain – but The Pill won’t help you get pregnant. “In patients who are not trying to conceive, medical treatment of endometriosis can be very beneficial and relieve symptoms of dysmenorrheal and pelvic pain,” write these doctors.

Whether endometriosis surgery affects female fertility rates depends largely on how mild or advance the endometriosis is. In some cases of mild to moderate endometriosis, surgery isn’t necessary to achieve excellent pregnancy rates through IVF. In advanced cases of endometriosis, surgery may be recommended before a pregnancy can happen through IVF.

As always, you need to talk to your doctors or fertility specialists to get a firm answer on how endometriosis affects your fertility rates – and even they may not know for sure.

For more tips on increasing female fertility, read How Naturopathic Medicine Can Treat Uterine Fibroids in Women.

And, if you have any stories or tips about getting pregnant after struggling with endometriosis, I’d love to hear them. I can’t offer advice on how endometriosis affects your fertility, but it may help you to write about your experience.

Are you trying to get pregnant? Fairhaven Health's Hormone Balance Bundle improves egg quality, encourages cycle regularity, and helps your body ovulate regularly.

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May you grow healthy and strong, and may your health issues never get in the way of getting pregnant and having the babies you want!

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2 thoughts on “How Endometriosis Affects Your Fertility”

  1. Hello,
    I was diagnosed with endometriosis in November 2014. Shortly before that I had seen a naturopath to try and increase our odds of getting pregnant. I was put on a cleanse but was also given a list of foods that I shouldn’t eat (dairy, gluten, red meat anything non organic or GMO to name a few). This new way of eating actually really helped my husband who was suffering from digestion issues that medical doctors had no solution for except to take a pill forever. My husband no longer needed a pill but I still wasn’t having any relief from my terrible periods. It wasn’t until we decided to cut meat out completely that I have had 2 months of, not pain free but at least med free, periods. For someone who was on a lot of very strong pills to avoid vomiting or passing out from the unbearable pain this is awesome. I have even been able to go on bike rides during my period. Woohoo!

    Although this month marks our two years of trying we, like you, have decided not to proceed with IVF after trying an IUI. During our IUI I was on injectable and was told that my eggs weren’t growing enough which could also pose a problem if we did IVF. This and other factors made us decide to enjoy the life we have together instead of the pain/sadness/stress and hormonal roller coaster of pushing against a door that doesn’t want to open.

    I may not have gotten pregnant but I feel that living with a lot less pain is pretty good!

  2. Chinese herbal medicine may relieve symptoms in the treatment of endometriosis. A systematic review by Cochrane Researchers found some evidence that women had comparable benefits following laparoscopic surgery and suffered fewer adverse effects if they were given Chinese herbs compared with conventional drug treatments.

    Endometriosis is a gynaecological disorder affecting as many as one in six women of reproductive age. It can cause pelvic pain, irregular and painful periods, and infertility.

    Surgical treatments do not always lead to long-term improvement in symptoms and drug treatments can have unpleasant side effects such as hot flushes, acne and weight gain.

    “These findings suggest that Chinese herbs may be just as effective as certain conventional drug treatments for women suffering from endometriosis, but at present we don’t have enough evidence to generalize the results,” says lead researcher Andrew Flower of the Complementary Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southampton in the UK.

    Source: ScienceDaily press release (July 11, 2009). “Chinese Herbs May Relieve Endometriosis Symptoms.”