Endometriosis is a condition affecting around 10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44. Those with the condition develop endometrial-like tissue on or around the reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Like the endometrial tissue in the womb, it thickens and bleeds with the monthly menstrual cycle. However, it cannot leave the body, often leading to inflammation, scarring and cysts that cause pain. Fibrous tissues may also build-up, resulting in reproductive organs sticking together. Despite this, many women with the condition are successfully able to conceive and have healthy children of their own. In this post, we share guidance from an IVF treatment clinic on endometriosis and how it affects a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.
This is a contributed article.
Can You Get Pregnant if You Have Endometriosis?
There is a link between endometriosis and fertility problems, and this is due to how the disease distorts the reproductive organs. For 60-70% of those with endometriosis, however, pregnancy can happen spontaneously. It is even possible for those with severe cases of endometriosis to get pregnant naturally, but it should be noted that a woman’s chances are individual. It is based on a number of factors such as her underlying health conditions, age and how endometriosis affects her.
“Endometriosis can indeed affect a woman’s fertility, but it does not necessarily mean she cannot get pregnant. Approximately 30-50% of women with endometriosis may experience difficulties conceiving. However, with appropriate medical management and fertility treatments, many women with endometriosis can still achieve successful pregnancies.” –American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
Age Remains the Biggest Factor
Age is the main factor affecting a woman’s fertility. Women are born with all of the eggs that they will have in their lifetime, and with each menstrual cycle, ovarian reserve diminishes by 1000 eggs. This gradually lowers the chances of conception, and at around 38 years of age the process rapidly accelerates.
What Options Are Available
Women with endometriosis who face challenges conceiving have several options available to increase their chances of getting pregnant. The most appropriate option depends on the severity of endometriosis, age, overall health, and individual circumstances. Here are some of the options commonly considered:
- Laparoscopic Surgery: In cases where endometriosis causes structural issues like adhesions, ovarian cysts, or blocked fallopian tubes, laparoscopic surgery can be performed to remove the abnormal tissue and improve fertility.
- Hormone Therapy: Hormonal treatments such as oral contraceptives, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, or progestins may be used to manage endometriosis symptoms and potentially improve fertility.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): IUI involves placing washed and prepared sperm directly into the woman’s uterus during her ovulation cycle, which can increase the chances of sperm reaching the egg and fertilizing it.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): IVF is a more complex fertility treatment. It involves retrieving eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory, and transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus. IVF is often recommended when other treatments have not been successful or in cases of severe endometriosis.
- Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART): Aside from IVF, other ART methods like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or egg donation might be considered depending on individual circumstances.
- Gestational Surrogacy: In severe cases where carrying a pregnancy is not possible due to the impact of endometriosis on the uterus, a gestational surrogate can carry the pregnancy on behalf of the intended parents.
- Adoption: For women who are unable to conceive due to endometriosis or other fertility issues, adoption is another beautiful way to build a family.
It’s important for women with endometriosis to work closely with a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist. These experts can help assess individual situations, recommend appropriate treatments, and provide the necessary support throughout the fertility journey. Additionally, lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and reducing stress can positively impact fertility.
Complications with Pregnancy
With endometriosis, there is a greater chance of miscarriage. Around 1 in 5 pregnancies sadly end in miscarriage, and with endometriosis, this is around 1 in 4. The chances of an ectopic pregnancy are also doubled.
We recommend fertility evaluation at a highly reputable clinic for a clearer understanding of your chances and the treatments/procedures suited to you.