Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to that which normally lines the womb is found elsewhere in the body, such as the fallopian tubes or ovaries. This tissue responds in the same way as normal endometrial tissue, by building up and breaking down each month. However, unlike the bleeding which occurs each menstrual cycle, the broken down endometrial-like tissue has nowhere to go i.e. no way of exiting the body, so it becomes trapped. This can cause pain, inflammation, and scar tissue to form.
Around 10% of reproductive aged women worldwide have endometriosis, and there are potentially many more, with the average diagnosis taking up to 8 years. It affects women in a number of ways. Some of the symptoms include chronic pain, difficulty getting pregnant, fatigue, depression, problems having intercourse and difficultly meeting commitments. Although the cause is unknown, it’s thought to be hereditary and passed down genetically.
Can You Get Pregnant if You Have Endometriosis?
In some cases, endometriosis can lead to problems with fertility. Although research is inconclusive, it is believed that the difficulty some women face when trying to conceive with endometriosis is due to distortion of the reproductive organs, such as the formation of scar tissue which can block the fallopian tubes and interfere with ovulation. The fertility of a woman with mild endometriosis is less affected than that of a woman with severe endometriosis.
As for all women, age is the biggest factor affecting fertility. A women’s egg reserve will decline rapidly after the age of 38 and the chance of miscarriage will increase. There is debate around whether there are more complications in later pregnancies amongst those with endometriosis. According to statistics, around 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage and for those with the condition the risk is around 1 in 4. The risk of ectopic pregnancy is also doubled.
Improving Your Chances of Getting Pregnant with Endometriosis
There are options available for those having difficulty to conceive such as IVF and surgery to remove endometriosis. Surgery has been proven to increase the chances of getting pregnant for those with superficial endometriosis – where the tissue is attached to the peritoneum. For cases of deeper endometriosis involving the bowel or bladder, the effectiveness is unknown as there is not enough conclusive research.
If you have endometriosis and are looking to start a family, we can support you by carrying out an individual, expert assessment and perhaps administering fertility treatment if you would like to go down this route. Get in touch to book a consultation.