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How Endometriosis Affects Fertility and What You Can Do About It

For the more than 200 million women worldwide who live with endometriosis, the chronic pelvic pain and other intense symptoms it causes can disrupt your daily routine. From work life to personal relationships to your emotional health and overall well-being, endometriosis can affect nearly every aspect of your life. 

If you’re one of the many women living with endometriosis, you may also wonder about its effect on your fertility. The dedicated team of providers at Georgia Center for Women in Atlanta, Emory Midtown, and Morrow, Georgia, understand the fear and frustration endometriosis can bring. 

Our practice specializes in helping women with endometriosis find relief from the troublesome symptoms it can cause. We’re also dedicated to helping women with endometriosis become parents when they’re ready. 

What is endometriosis?

Every month, endometrial tissue grows and thickens to prepare the inside of your uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. If no egg is fertilized, your uterus sheds its lining and you get your period. The process begins again once your period ends. 

If you have endometriosis, the endometrial tissue grows in spots outside of your uterus. It can grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and other parts of your body. Unfortunately, even though it’s outside of your uterus, the tissue will still act as if it were inside your womb, growing, thickening, and trying to shed in response to the hormonal shifts of your menstrual cycle. 

When the endometrial tissue is outside your uterus, it has no way to leave your body. As a result, the misplaced endometrial lining can develop into lesions and irritate nearby organs and tissues and cause the formation of scars, ovarian cysts, and adhesions.

Endometriosis usually causes severe menstrual cramps and chronic pelvic pain. Other symptoms can include heavy menstrual bleeding, nausea, chronic fatigue, bowel and urinary disorders, and pain during intercourse.

How does endometriosis affect fertility?

Endometriosis is one of the top three causes of female infertility. This is due to several factors. First, it takes an average of 10 years for most women to be diagnosed properly with endometriosis. In the meantime, the ongoing disorder can cause scar tissue and lesions, which can make fertility a challenge. 

In other words, women with mild-to-moderate endometriosis may not have trouble conceiving naturally, whereas up to 50% of women with moderate-to-severe endometriosis can struggle to become pregnant. 

The adhesions and scar tissue caused by chronic endometriosis can prevent an egg and sperm from uniting, either by interfering with normal ovulation or making it impossible for the egg to travel through the fallopian tube for fertilization. 

There are also other ways endometriosis can impact fertility. For some women, the condition can stop the lining of the uterus from developing as it should, thus making it difficult or impossible for a fertilized egg to implant. For others, the chronic low-grade inflammation endometriosis causes can lead to irreversible damage to the eggs and create an inhospitable environment for sperm, thus making pregnancy difficult. 

Are there treatment options for endometriosis?

Endometriosis doesn’t have a cure, but treatment options for endometriosis do exist. These options can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and how endometriosis interferes with your daily life. 

If you have mild-to-moderate endometriosis, you may be able to manage symptoms with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in relaxation techniques may also help you manage your symptoms. 

If endometriosis is interfering with your ability to become pregnant, you may be able to improve your chances of conception by taking a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. This medication works to stop ovulation and menstruation. As a result, it will halt the progression of endometriosis. After completing treatment, your menstrual and ovulation cycles will resume, and you may find it easier to get pregnant.

If you have a more severe case of endometriosis, surgery to remove the problematic endometrial tissue may be your best option for getting pregnant. Minimally invasive laparoscopic methods make it possible to remove the tissue with as much precision as traditional open surgery, but with far less risk and downtime.

To learn more about endometriosis and infertility, book an appointment online or over the phone with Georgia Center for Women today.

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