At least 11% of American women between the ages of 15-44 suffer from endometriosis, a painful condition that happens when the tissue lining the uterus (the endometrium) winds up growing in other areas. In addition to the pain it causes, endometriosis can also make it harder to get pregnant. About 40% of female infertility is related to endometriosis.
As a leading OB/GYN in Conroe, Texas, Richard Roberts, MD, offers comprehensive gynecologic services at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe, including endometriosis treatment and treatments for infertility. In this post, learn how endometriosis affects fertility and how we can help increase your chances of conceiving.
Your uterus is lined with a layer of tissue called the endometrium. During your menstrual cycle, the endometrium thickens in preparation for possible egg implantation (pregnancy). If you don’t become pregnant during your cycle, the endometrium sheds during your period.
Endometriosis happens when endometrium forms implants that grow outside the uterus. These implants often form on the outside wall of the uterus, but they may also grow on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, intestines, or other areas in the abdominal or pelvic areas. Rarely, implants may grow in other areas, like the chest cavity or even your limbs.
Since these implants are made of the same tissue that lines your uterus, they respond to hormonal fluctuations in the same way. During ovulation or other times during your cycle, the implants can swell, thicken, and bleed, just like your uterine lining.
But unlike the uterine lining that can be shed through the vagina during your period, implants have nowhere to go. Instead, they form cysts, scar tissue, and other lesions that can cause considerable pain and other symptoms.
If you have endometriosis, you probably wonder if you can get pregnant. Since having endometriosis significantly increases your risk of fertility problems, it’s a worry that’s well founded.
Endometriosis can affect fertility in several ways. When implants grow on your ovaries or fallopian tubes, they can cause inflammation and scar tissue formation that may block the release of eggs. Some implants extend through the uterine wall, making it harder to conceive.
Endometriosis can also affect your hormones and your immune system, causing an inflammatory response that makes your uterus inhospitable to sperm and eggs. That means that even if ovulation occurs normally, the egg or sperm (or both) may be destroyed before fertilization can occur.
Fortunately, endometriosis treatment can improve fertility for many women who have the condition. The treatment we recommend will depend in part on the number of implants, their sizes, and their location.
Some women benefit from hormone therapy to help manage their implants, relieve symptoms, and improve their chances of conception. In other cases, we may recommend removing the implants or the scar tissue implants can cause.
If you have endometriosis and you’re planning on getting pregnant, scheduling an office visit before pregnancy is a good way to make sure you receive the treatment you need to increase the likelihood of conception.To learn more about fertility treatments or endometriosis therapies, call 936-756-7788 or book an appointment online with the team at OB/GYN Associates of Conroe today.