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Endometriosis and Fertility: Understanding the Impact and Treatment Options

By Prelude Fertility|March 25th, 2024

Endometriosis is an often painful condition that can cause difficult menstrual cycles and infertility. If you have or suspect you have the condition, you may be curious about its impact on your family planning goals. While endometriosis can affect your ability to conceive, there are various treatment options available. Here’s what you need to know!

What Is Endometriosis?

The endometrium is a tissue that lines the uterus and increases in thickness during the menstrual cycle in preparation for a potential pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, this lining will shed once a month — a.k.a. your period. For those with endometriosis, tissue implants outside of the uterus instead of within it, and it doesn’t leave the body. It can grow on or around the following:

  • Fallopian tubes
  • Ovaries
  • Ligaments around the uterus
  • Space between the uterus and the rectum
  • The lining of the pelvic cavity

In rare cases, the tissue can grow on the bladder, cervix, rectum, intestines, stomach, or vagina. The buildup of this tissue can cause inflammation, scarring, and cysts.

Endometriosis Symptoms

Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. While it’s normal to experience some cramping and discomfort during your menstrual cycle, those with endometriosis may feel more intense pain. Other symptoms include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Painful intercourse
  • Infertility
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating

Interestingly, the amount of pain you feel may not be related to the severity of the endometriosis. It’s possible to have a small amount of tissue with intense pain or a lot of tissue with little pain. Some people may not have any symptoms at all and only realize they have the condition when they can’t get pregnant. Endometriosis symptoms can also mimic other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, making it more challenging to get an accurate diagnosis. 

How Endometriosis Impacts Fertility

Endometriosis is a common cause of infertility. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis are infertile. To successfully get pregnant, an egg has to travel through the fallopian tube, get fertilized by the sperm, and implant into the uterine wall. Endometriosis can block the tube and keep the egg and sperm from uniting or even damage the sperm or egg.

If you’re having trouble conceiving and are also experiencing pelvic pain or any other symptoms associated with endometriosis, it’s worth it to get tested. A reproductive endocrinologist can diagnose the condition with a laparoscopy. A laparoscope is a thin tube your clinician will insert through an incision in the abdomen. It has a lens with a light at the end and can identify the locations and size of the misplaced tissue. 

Endometriosis Treatment Options

There’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment plan for endometriosis. Because it varies in severity and impacts different people in different ways, your reproductive endocrinologist will consider various factors like:

  • Age
  • Overall health and lifestyle
  • Family planning goals
  • The severity of the condition
  • The extent of your endometriosis symptoms

Treatment options range from medication to surgery or a mix of both. A clinician may be able to remove the abnormal tissue from the uterus. You may also need assistance conceiving, either with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF)

Explore Endometriosis Treatments and Take Action Today

Endometriosis can impact your quality of life, so getting properly diagnosed and treated as soon as possible is crucial. If you want to consult with an expert fertility care team, contact The Prelude Network® today, and we’ll help you find a fertility clinic near you.