Endometriosis affects more than 11 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44. This common condition occurs when the tissue that makes up the uterine lining grows on other organs in the body, such as the lower abdomen or pelvis. Women with this condition often experience pain with periods, lower abdominal pain, or pain with sexual intercourse.
Endometriosis sufferers may also struggle with infertility. An estimated 20 to 40 percent of women with infertility problems have endometriosis. Fertility may be impaired when endometriosis causes distortion of the fallopian tubes which prevents them from being able to pick up the egg following ovulation. Endometriosis can also cause inflammation that can alter the function of the egg, ovary, uterus, or fallopian tubes.
Endometriosis and Infertility
While endometriosis has an apparent connection with infertility, why the condition causes fertility problems is not completely clear. Some theories speculate that tubal damage from endometriosis causes inflammation resulting in poor implantation. Although some women with endometriosis have no difficulty conceiving, others may experience significant challenges and may require fertility treatment. However, research has suggested that pregnancy rates among women with endometriosis are much lower than with women without the condition.
A portion of women with endometriosis will require fertility treatment. While in vitro fertilization (IVF) has the highest pregnancy rates per cycle, some studies have shown that women who underwent IVF experienced a lower pregnancy rate than other women of the same age who utilized the same treatment. Implantation rates appear to be lower and the total number of eggs at retrieval is reduced. However, the pregnancy rate per cycle in women undergoing treatment is still higher than those experienced naturally.
Treatment for Endometriosis
Women with endometriosis have access to several treatment options. Surgical treatment, which is generally performed through a laparoscope, has shown to reduce pain and enhance fertility. Hormonal medications, such as oral conceptive pills and aromatase inhibitors, may also be useful for pain relief but most unfortunately prevent ovulation. Medications may also present with unique side effects that you will want to be aware of being starting treatment therapy.