If you’re living with endometriosis, you’re not alone. Around the world, more than 200 million women have been diagnosed with this painful condition. And researchers believe more women live with their symptoms without a diagnosis.
Unfortunately, many women don’t receive a diagnosis until they struggle with infertility. At least half of all women with endometriosis have issues getting pregnant, making the condition one of the top causes of infertility worldwide.
At Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, and our compassionate care team specialize in diagnosing and treating endometriosis. Our providers offer different options to help you manage symptoms and increase your chances of a healthy, successful pregnancy.
Take a moment to learn how endometriosis impacts your fertility and the options available to help you start your family.
Before looking at how endometriosis affects fertility, it’s important to understand the condition and how it affects your body.
When you have endometriosis, the tissue that makes up the lining of your uterus (endometrium) grows outside the womb. It can grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, and many other areas of your body.
During your menstrual cycle, the endometrium grows and thickens. This prepares your uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg. If you don’t get pregnant, your uterus sheds this lining and you get your period.
With endometriosis, the endometrial outside of your uterus also follows this cycle. It grows, thickens, and tries to leave your body in response to the hormone changes associated with your menstrual cycle.
But endometrial tissue outside your womb doesn’t have a way to leave your body. As a result, the tissue irritates nearby organs and tissues. This can be very painful. It also causes scar tissue, ovarian cysts, and adhesions.
How endometriosis impacts your fertility depends on different factors. Difficulty conceiving can be the result of one or more the following:
Inflamed endometrial lining produces molecules called cytokines. Cytokines affect the egg and sperm, causing them to become paralyzed. This can prevent fertilization.
Endometrial tissue outside the uterus creates lesions and damage to your healthy uterine tissue. Your body can develop scar tissue that obstructs the pathways in which sperm travel. This interferes with fertilization.
Your inflamed endometrial tissue and scar tissue can also obstruct your fallopian tubes. This prevents the release of your eggs. When eggs are trapped in your ovaries, it’s not possible for conception to occur.
In addition to making it difficult to conceive, these problems also increase your likelihood of miscarriage after conception.
Although endometriosis can trigger infertility, there’s good news. Different treatment options can help manage your symptoms and help you retain your fertility. Rickie recommends different options depending on the severity of your symptoms, its effect on your daily life, and where you are in your infertility journey.
For mild-to-moderate endometriosis, making key lifestyle changes can help. Rickie reviews the steps you can take, which may include:
If you’re not ready to get pregnant yet, certain birth control methods, like an IUD, help prevent scar tissue from getting worse. This can help you get pregnant more easily when you’re ready.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant without success, Rickie may recommend taking a medication that stops ovulation and menstruation. This medicine, called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, stops the progression of endometriosis. Once you complete GnRH treatment, your normal cycle resumes and you have a higher chance of getting pregnant.
For some women, surgery may be necessary to remove the problematic endometrial tissue. With this tissue removed, many women have an easier time getting pregnant. Rickie knows the idea of surgery may be scary. Rest assured that minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques offer lower risks and a faster recovery.
While endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility, You can still have a happy, healthy pregnancy. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to improving your chances of conception.
At Alpenglow Gynecology, Rickie and our team begin by confirming that endometriosis is the cause of your symptoms. We then work with you to start treatment as soon as possible, which helps increase your fertility and improve your ability to have a baby.
Ready to learn more about endometriosis and infertility? Schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Rickie at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado.