What is Endometriosis? Endometriosis and Fertility
Endometriosis is a disorder characterized by endometrial-like tissue growing on the soft tissue outside the uterus. Although there is no confirmed cause for endometriosis, many researchers speculate that the disorder may be caused by menstrual blood flowing back out through the fallopian tubes and settling in different parts of the abdomen. This process is called retrograde menstrual flow. The endometrial-like tissue reacts to hormones the same way that the endometrium does, so when the endometrium breaks down, the endo-like tissue does the same. Without an exit route, this causes inflammation, scarring, bloating, painful cramps, pain during intercourse and in severe cases can cause organ adhesion. The disruption that endometriosis causes in the abdomen can cause fertility issues.
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
The most prominent sign of endometriosis is irregular and painful periods. However, there are other symptoms of endometriosis that include:
Pain during intercourse
Pain during bowel movements
Pain during urination
Pan before, during, and after menstruation
Endometriosis Treatments & Fertility
Endometriosis is a common cause of fertility problems. Endometrial-like tissue can cause blockages in the fallopian tubes and can cause problems with ovulation if it grows on the ovaries. Aside from these direct fertility issues, the scarring that endometriosis causes can reduce the elasticity of the organs which can cause complications carrying a child to term. Pain during intercourse can also play a role in the infertility of those with endometriosis. Although there is no cure for endometriosis, there are treatment options to manage the symptoms and increase the odds of fertility. Treatment often involves laparoscopy to remove the endo tissue, although this is not a temporary solution as the endo tends to grow back over time in many cases. Hormone therapies such as the IUD, and birth control pills can also help by stabilizing hormone levels which can reduce pain during menstruation or prevent monthly menstruation altogether. When trying to conceive with endometriosis some treatments involve ovary stimulation, IUI, and IVF.
Endometriosis affects everyone differently. If you suspect you may have endometriosis, talk to your doctor about treatment options. It is important to have a team of trusted health care professionals to help you navigate your treatment options and find the best one for you.