Endometriosis (or, “endo”) is a common health problem for women; in fact, it affects at least 11 percent of American women between the ages of 15 to 49. That’s more than 6.5 million women in the U.S. alone! Worldwide, it’s estimated that the condition affects 176 million women.
Many women who have endometriosis are able to get pregnant, but it can be a challenge for others. As many as one in every two women find it harder to get pregnant. Research has found that 70 to 90 percent of infertile women have been endometriosis, and 30 to 50 percent of women diagnosed with endometriosis face issues with fertility.
At Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, we assist women who are dealing with endometriosis achieve a successful pregnancy. If you’ve been diagnosed with the condition and are having difficulty conceiving, don’t give up hope! Here’s how our team can help you have a healthy, happy baby.
What is Endometriosis?
The leading theory for development of endometriosis is due to menstrual tissue leaking into the pelvic cavity during menstruation and then growing outside the uterus.
Its symptoms—painful cramps, pain during or after sex, chronic lower back and pelvic pain, digestive problems, heavy bleeding, spotting, fatigue, and infertility—are often “normalized” as regular symptoms of a menstrual cycle. In some cases, women may not feel any pain or cramping at all.
If you believe you have endometriosis, talk with your doctor. It’s difficult to diagnose the condition based on a pelvic exam ultrasound or even MRI; a definitive diagnosis requires a diagnostic laparoscopy.
Treatments for endometriosis include medications and procedural strategies to increase the chances of pregnancy, including in vitro fertilization or laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis.
The Effects of Endo on Fertility and Pregnancy
Not every woman with endometriosis will struggle with infertility, however, it is a very common cause. Unexplained infertility oftentimes is the result of endometriosis. It is still unclear exactly why endometriosis affects infertility in all cases, but some possible reasons are:
- The endometriosis or scar tissue may block the fallopian tubes.
- Endometriosis can distort the normal relationship between the ovary and fallopian tubes, making it more difficult for the sperm to find and fertilize the egg.
- The lining of the uterus where implantation occurs, the endometrium, may be affected by the presence of endometriosis, making pregnancy and embryo growth unachievable.
- Endometriosis also causes inflammation, which can interfere with the delicate balance of hormones a woman needs to achieve a successful pregnancy.
Overcoming Infertility Caused by Endometriosis
At AZCREI, we have more than 30 years of experience evaluating and treating the causes of infertility in order to help women achieve a pregnancy. If a patient has already been diagnosed with endometriosis, we have several options available to improve her chances of pregnancy. Laparoscopic surgery allows us to remove the endometriotic implants and build up through ablation, using either cautery or laser techniques.
For many patients, this is enough and they are able to become pregnant. However, achieving a pregnancy within a short period of time is important in order to prevent the reoccurrence of endometriosis, which may lead to infertility in the future.
If laparoscopic treatment is unsuccessful, in vitro fertilization is a common option. Some couples may want to skip laparoscopic surgery altogether and jump straight into IVF. Skipping the treatment of endometriosis may mean the couple will require IVF again to achieve any future pregnancies.
While endometriosis does not necessarily make a pregnancy difficult, once it’s been achieved, it can lead to some complications. Your baby may be born early, and you may experience bleeding and/or high blood pressure. Once pregnancy is achieved, our team will monitor your health for the first trimester; after that, your OB/GYN will likely keep a close eye on your baby’s development.
If you’ve been struggling to get pregnant or have been diagnosed with endometriosis, we can help you grow your family. Contact AZCREI today by visiting us online or calling 520-326-0001.