Your Future Fertility: Endometriosis
Do you have endometriosis? If so, it could affect your fertility future.
Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of female infertility in the United States, and RESOLVE states that 40% of women with endometriosis experience some degree of infertility when they’re ready to conceive.
Quickie Spotlight on What is Endometriosis?
Simply put, endometriosis is diagnosed when a woman’s endometrial lining (uterine lining that thickens during your menstrual cycle, and is shed during your period if no fertilized egg implants there) is found elsewhere in the abdominal cavity. We’re not entirely sure why this happens. However, most women with endometriosis grow endometrial cells or tissue on their ovaries or outside the uterus – and this can cause significant discomfort and/or pain during her period.
Symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Very painful cramps before and/or during your period
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
- Excessively long periods, heavy periods and/or spotting in between periods
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Discomfort urinating or difficulty with bowel movements (endometriosis usually affects the fallopian tubes and uterus, but it can also affect the bladder, bowels and other pelvic tissues)
Some women with severe endometriosis have no problem getting pregnant; others who’ve never had symptoms of endometriosis are diagnosed when they aren’t able to conceive.
Why Does Endometriosis Cause Infertility?
Scarring is almost always the cause of infertility for women with endometriosis who have difficulty getting pregnancy. In some cases, scarring in the fallopian tube makes it impossible for an egg to meet the sperm. In other cases, uterine scarring can be so severe that it compromised a fertilized egg’s ability to implant or grow in the uterus.
Over time, severe scarring can permanently alter the anatomical structure of pelvic organs and/or can irreparable damage.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Endometriosis
Endometriosis is usually diagnosed based on a patient’s medical/menstrual history and confirmed via an ultrasound and/or laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is a procedure that allows us to get close-up view of the pelvic organs to observe any endometrial tissue that’s living where it shouldn’t; we also use laparoscopy to perform surgical treatment when needed.
The good news is that once diagnosed, you and your physician can start the discussion about the best treatment method(s) for your age and future fertility plans.
If you are not ready to have children – yet or ever
Women who aren’t quite ready to have children have multiple options. The first is using a low-dose, oral birth control pill. This is one of the simplest and effective treatments for women with endometriosis. It regulates your their cycle and minimizes the amount of endometrial tissue that develops inside and outside the uterus. In severe cases, your doctor may also prescribe Lupron for the pain.
If you have severe endometriosis or scarring, the doctor will recommend laparoscopy to remove existing scarring and blockages.
If you are trying to have children
Surgery is typically the first course of treatment to remove any obvious scarring, blockages or correctable abnormalities when endometriosis causes infertility. If this doesn’t work, you should seek help from a fertility specialist who can provide a personalized fertility treatment plan based on your medical history.
Don’t keep irregular or painful periods a secret. Visit Overlake so we can provide relief and protect your future fertility.