Endometriosis and Infertility
Endometriosis can have a major impact on a womanï¿½s ability to become pregnant. While treatment options exist to help alleviate the effects of endometriosis on female infertility, depending on the severity of the condition, endometriosis can still impact a womanï¿½s chances of getting pregnant. But how exactly does this condition affect female fertility and can endometriosis treatment options significantly increase a woman's chance of achieving pregnancy?
How Does Endometriosis Cause Infertility?
There are a variety of medical opinions when it comes to explaining how endometriosis causes female infertility.
One such theory is that the scarring that results from endometrial lesions hinders the ability to get pregnant. This is because scarring hinders the fallopian tubes from picking up the egg where it would be fertilized by the sperm. Scarring of the fallopian tubes also prevents the transfer of the egg to the uterus for implantation. The more scarring a woman has due to her condition, the greater her risk of infertility.
Another theory is that menstrual tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen, where it is implanted and then develops.
Other views link endometriosis with infertility because of the biological effect it has on eggs.
Twenty-five to 35% of infertile women have endometriosis.
Other Ways Endometriosis Affects Fertility
Endometriosis can also affect a womanï¿½s ability of getting pregnant in a number of indirect ways.
Such effects include:
- scar tissue can result in the development of adhesions around the ovary. This growth limits the area available for a successful release of eggs
- growths can affect the fallopian tubes. As a result, eggs are not picked up and transported to the uterus for fertilization
- in addition, endometrial growths can form inside the fallopian tubes, causing a blockage
- endometriosis can affect fertility by disrupting the regular cycle of egg development and release
- the peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis contains a higher number of scavenger cells; cells which are capable of destroying sperm cells, decreasing their chances of getting pregnant
There are a variety of treatment options for endometriosis.
Such options include:
- painkillers. These can help to minimize endometriosis symptoms, such as pelvic pain and painful periods.
- surgery. More serious forms of endometriosis require more invasive forms of surgery.
- assisted reproductive technology (ART). Such options include IVF and Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer (GIFT), in which the egg and sperm are fertilized inside the fallopian tubes. The latter infertility treatment procedure is reserved for women with endometriosis who have healthy fallopian tubes.
Surgery and ART treatment options are generally recommended around a woman who has endometriosis has tried to conceive without success for a period of about one year.
These endometriosis treatment options give women with endometriosis a 30 to 65% chance of getting pregnant successfully.