Infertility is a common issue among women in their reproductive age. Endometriosis is a common cause of infertility diagnosed in infertility clinics. Here is more information about this condition and how it affects fertility:
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that affects the uterus. The condition occurs when the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. The endometrium may extend to the bladder, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvic area.
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the endometrium gets thicker and is its thickest as she nears her ovulation and menstrual period. This process happens regardless of whether the endometrium is inside or outside the uterus. The endometrium breaks down and bleeds during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
When the endometrium is outside the uterus, it has no way to exit the body after it breaks down. The trapped endometrial tissue irritates the surrounding tissue and may cause scars and adhesions on organs.
Endometriosis may cause severe pain, especially during a woman’s menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Painful urination and bowel movements
- Constant pelvic pain lasting six months or more
- Pain around the pelvic area and lower back during ovulation
- Fatigue, especially during menstruation
Sometimes this condition may show no symptoms. In such cases, a woman may not realize she has endometriosis until a gynecologist examines her. One may be at a higher risk of having endometriosis if their mother or other biological relations have it.
The Link Between Endometriosis and Infertility
According to experts, 30 to 50 percent of women with infertility have endometriosis. This does not mean you can never have a baby if you have endometriosis. The condition makes it challenging to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term but does not eliminate your chances of getting pregnant.
Endometriosis can reduce fertility in various ways. As the endometrial tissue thickens, it may block the fallopian tubes. With blocked tubes, a woman’s eggs may have no way of uniting with the sperm to make a baby.
Even when there is no blockage on the fallopian tubes, endometriosis may cause scarring on the uterus, thus hindering the implantation of the fertilized egg. Extensive scarring on the ovaries and hormonal imbalances caused by the condition may affect egg quality.
When one has severe endometriosis, they may have cysts known as endometriomas growing on or inside their ovaries. Endometriomas damage ovarian tissues and may affect ovulation, making it difficult to get pregnant.
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Types of Endometriosis
There are three types of endometriosis, categorized based on the areas where the endometrial tissue has grown in a woman’s body. Doctors also classify the condition into four stages based on its severity. Below are three types of endometriosis:
Superficial Peritoneal Endometriosis
This is a type of endometriosis where patients have a thin layer of endometrial tissue along the tissue that lines the abdomen, known as the peritoneum. Doctors classify superficial peritoneal endometriosis as a mild form of the condition. Some women with this form of endometriosis still face fertility challenges.
Endometriomas start growing on and inside the ovaries once the endometrium invades the ovaries. Endometriomas can damage the ovaries, slowing down ovulation. At this stage, a person may also have scars on their fallopian tubes.
Deeply Infiltrating Endometriosis
Doctors classify endometriosis as deeply infiltrating when the endometrial tissue extends deep within the organs near the uterus. Deeply infiltrating endometriosis is severe because the patient may have lesions or tissue infiltration.
The extent of tissue growth in this form of endometriosis causes deep scarring in the reproductive organs and other organs the endometrium infiltrates. At this stage, the chances of natural conception are drastically reduced.
Visit Infertility Clinics for a Professional Diagnosis
Women who have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive need to consider talking to their doctor about endometriosis and start exploring medical options. There is no need to endure a long battle against infertility alone, as many resources are available through online support groups or infertility clinics. By putting yourself in the care of an experienced professional for diagnosis and treatment, you can take control of your reproductive health and may potentially increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy.