Endometriosis 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
One 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.
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!