February 2024

Endometriosis and Its Impact on Fertility

Endometriosis, a medical condition that affects approximately 10% of women worldwide, is a significant  cause of infertility and can have a profound impact on a woman’s quality of life. (Source: WHO) This article wants to shed light on endometriosis and its effects on fertility.


Understanding Endometriosis

Endometriosis is where the tissue that lines the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows outside the  uterus. This abnormal growth can occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis.  In rare cases, endometrial tissue may spread beyond the pelvic region. The exact cause of endometriosis  is unknown, but several theories exist, including retrograde menstruation, immune system dysfunction,  and hormonal imbalances. 


Symptoms of Endometriosis 

The symptoms of endometriosis can vary greatly from one woman to another. Some women may  experience severe pain, while others may have no symptoms at all. Common symptoms include painful  periods, pain during intercourse, heavy menstrual bleeding, and infertility. (Source: WebMD) It’s important to note that the severity of symptoms does not necessarily relate to the disease's extent.  Some women with mild endometriosis may experience severe pain, while others with extensive disease  may have no symptoms. 




Endometriosis and Fertility 

Endometriosis can affect fertility in several ways. Firstly, it can cause inflammation and scarring in the  pelvic region, which can distort a woman’s anatomy and obstruct the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg  and sperm from meeting. Secondly, endometriosis can affect the quality of the egg or the embryo,  reducing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Lastly, endometriosis may alter the hormonal  environment, impacting ovulation, fertilization, and implantation. 


Diagnosis of Endometriosis 

Diagnosing endometriosis can be challenging as its symptoms vary and can mimic other conditions. The  most definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is through a laparoscopy, a surgical procedure that  allows a doctor to view the pelvic organs. Different diagnostic methods include ultrasound, MRI, and  physical examination. However, these methods can only suggest the presence of endometriosis and  cannot provide a definitive diagnosis. 


Treatment Options for Endometriosis 

Treatment for endometriosis depends on the extent of the disease and the woman’s symptoms and  fertility goals. Pain medication, hormonal therapies, and surgery are common treatment options.  (Source: NICHD) For women with endometriosis who are trying to conceive, fertility treatments such as  in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended. It’s important to note that while these treatments can  help manage the symptoms of endometriosis and improve fertility, they do not cure the disease. 


Living with Endometriosis 

Living with endometriosis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Women need to seek  support and care. Joining a support group, seeking counseling, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can  help manage the symptoms and the emotional toll of the disease. 


Endometriosis is a complex condition with a significant impact on a woman’s fertility and overall quality  of life. However, with appropriate diagnosis and treatment, many women with endometriosis can  successfully conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. It’s crucial for women to have open discussions  with their healthcare providers about their symptoms, fertility goals, and treatment options.




WHO - Endometriosis (who.int) 

WebMD - Endometriosis Symptoms: Pain, Infertility, Unusual Bleeding, and More (webmd.com) 

NICHD - What are the treatments for endometriosis? | NICHD - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National  Institute of Child Health and Human Development (nih.gov)