The Link Between Endometriosis and Infertility

Endometriosis is a common and usually painful condition that affects about 10% of women in the United States and over 176 million worldwide. It occurs when the tissue that grows in your uterine lining, also called endometrial tissue, grows outside your uterus. This tissue can grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, ligaments, and other pelvic organs.

Endometriosis is common in women who have fertility problems. In fact, 30-50% of the women who have endometriosis experience infertility. Jehuda Renan, MD, FACOG, offers personalized and effective treatment for both conditions.

Signs of Endometriosis

The most common and telling symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, usually around the time of menstruation. While many women experience pain with their period, endometriosis is markedly more intense and severe than normal menstrual cramps.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include:


Endometriosis Affects Fertility in Several Ways

The endometrium tissue that grows outside your uterine lining acts as if it’s still in your uterus. So, for example, when you menstruate, the endometrium tissue thickens and then breaks down into menstrual blood — but does not exit your body as when you menstruate. It becomes trapped and may form into cysts or irritate the surrounding tissue, causing scar tissue.

These cysts and scar tissue can cause pain, especially during your menstrual cycle, and also interfere with fertility. To become pregnant, your egg, after it’s released from an ovary, travels through a fallopian tube and combines with sperm to become fertilized. The fertilized egg, or embryo, subsequently attaches itself to your uterus to begin its growth and development.

Endometriosis can interfere with this process by:

Endometriosis also increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy because the embryo can get caught in the fallopian tube and not attach to the uterus. Additionally, some believe that endometriosis causes the immune system to attack the embryo.

Treatment options for endometriosis

Although endometriosis is common among women with fertility problems, not all women with endometriosis have problems conceiving a child. But for those who experience endometriosis and infertility, Dr. Renan can help treat endometriosis and your fertility problems with a customized treatment plan.

Your plan may include one or more of these options to help you reduce pain and get pregnant.

Hormone therapy

Gonadotropin-release hormone can slow the growth of endometrial tissue. This treatment induces artificial menopause, so it is only used for a period of time to shrink the endometrial tissue. After you stop taking this hormone, your period returns and you may have an easier time getting pregnant.

Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat endometriosis. During the procedure, Dr. Renan makes a small incision and uses a laparoscope, a thin fiber-optic instrument, to look at your reproductive organs.

Dr. Renan is highly skilled in laparoscopy, having completed many of these procedures. He may also use laparoscopy to remove tissue, which can improve your chances of conceiving.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

If other treatments fail, assisted reproductive technology such as intrauterine insemination, also called artificial insemination, and in vitro fertilization can help along with other treatments or on its own.

To learn more about treatment options for endometriosis and infertility, call Dr. Renan or make an appointment online.

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