conceiving with endometriosis
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Can you conceive with endometriosis?

Overview

You probably have been wondering about the possibility of conceiving with endometriosis especially if you just got diagnosed. This will give insight on what to expect on your journey to pregnancy even with this diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a condition that affects women who are generally in their fertile years. Some women can have endometriosis and be unaware of it because there is not much pain, while in others, the pain is severe. About a third of women with endometriosis usually have issues with fertility and conception, but treatments can improve the situation. Once pregnant; however, most women with endometriosis usually have an uncomplicated pregnancy. If a woman has endometriosis, the condition on its own is quite challenging, so it is completely normal for that woman to wonder how that endometriosis will affect their ability to get pregnant. Understanding the intricacies of the condition might help in allaying the fears of thousands of women who suffer from the condition.

conceive with endometriosis
Picture courtesy: Verywell Health

What is endometriosis?

The lining of the uterus is known as the endometrium. This endometrial tissue is responsible for menstruation, which is when it sloughs off and causes the bleeding seen during the phenomenon, also known as your period. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows or proliferates where it should not. It grows in places like the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, on the outside of the uterus within the pelvis, or in rare cases, in other parts of the body like the intestines.

Who are the people that can get endometriosis?

Endometriosis can affect women who are within menstruating age, that is, women between the ages of 18-40, but it is mostly observed in women in their 30s and 40s. It is also more likely noticed in Caucasian and Asian women as compared to Black and Hispanic women. Other factors which can make a woman more likely to have endometriosis include:

  • Never ever had children
  • Periods that last longer than 7 days
  • Family history of endometriosis
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Health issues that block the normal flow of menstruation

What are the symptoms of endometriosis?

Symptoms that are seen in endometriosis include:

  • Very painful cramps during menstruation
  • Bleeding between menstrual cycles
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Intestinal problems like bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, especially during menstrual cycles.
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
symptoms of endometriosis
Picture courtesy: Verywell Health

How can endometriosis affect fertility?

A lot of women that have endometriosis do not have an issue with fertility and conception, but about a third of women with endometriosis have issues with getting pregnant. The mechanism of getting pregnant is so delicate that even the slightest variation might prevent it. An egg needs to be released from the ovaries. It then travels through the fallopian tubes, where it meets an oncoming sperm cell that fertilizes it. After fertilization, the egg still needs to attach to the endometrium in order to continue developing. Endometriosis may interfere with this process in any of the following ways:

  • The endometrial tissue may block the release of an egg from the ovaries
  • It may obstruct the fallopian tubes
  • It may obstruct the movement of the fallopian tubes
  • It may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the endometrium

Endometriosis may also affect fertility and conception by damaging the sperm cells or the egg; it may also precipitate an inflammation which then causes a hormonal imbalance that interferes with the balance of hormones needed to achieve pregnancy. It is usually advisable to consult a fertility specialist if an individual has been diagnosed with endometriosis and they are finding it hard to conceive.

Improving fertility chances for people with endometriosis

Getting Pregnant with Endometriosis
Picture courtesy: Dr. Jolene Brighten

If an individual has been having unprotected intercourse for about 6 months and has not conceived, it is advisable to consult with a doctor. It is possible that the individual may have been experiencing the symptoms of endometriosis but has not been diagnosed with it. A fertility specialist may then work with the doctor in order to determine the severity of the endometriosis symptoms and ascertain whether it is interfering with the individual’s ability to get pregnant. Some examples of ways to improve the fertility chances of people with endometriosis-induced infertility include:

  • In Vitro fertilization – this treatment involves extracting an egg from the affected woman and sperm from their partner. The egg is then fertilized outside the body and implanted into the uterus of the woman.
  • Freezing of eggs – endometriosis may affect the ovarian reserve, so some doctors may advise preserving eggs in the case that the woman wants to become pregnant in the future.
  • Superovulation and intrauterine insemination – are usually an option for women with mild endometriosis with uncompromised fallopian tubes and whose partners have normal sperm cells.
  • Monitored fertility cycles – this can be done in various ways. The woman is regularly examined in order to determine when the eggs are at their most fertile phase. When this has been determined, the doctor then injects the husband’s sperm in order to achieve fertilization.
  • Fertility medications – a doctor can also prescribe fertility drugs like Clomiphene. These medications help to induce the release of two or three eggs in order to increase the chances of fertilization.

IVF is usually recommended for people with moderate to severe endometriosis or for people who have not responded to other treatments. The success rate of IVF, however, is about half of the success rates of people with other forms of fertility issues. It is also important to live as healthy as possible when you are trying to get pregnant when you have endometriosis. This can help in reducing the inflammation in the body, which may prevent conception and successful pregnancy. Some examples of ways to achieve optimum health include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity
  • Engaging in regular and daily exercise
  • Eating healthy and nutrient-rich meals

It is also important to note that age can be a huge factor in trying to get pregnant. Higher fertility rates are usually associated with younger age. Women who are 35 and older are usually at an increased rate of both reduced fertility and miscarriage issues than their younger counterparts.

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