Whether you have endometriosis or not, you may have heard that endometriosis causes infertility. While endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility — and infertility is not always caused by endometriosis, even if a woman has it — this is sometimes the case.
The staff of experts at New England Women’s Healthcare know how disheartening endometriosis, fertility, or both can be, and we’re here to help you understand how endometriosis is linked to infertility.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a reproductive health condition that occurs in females. When you have this painful disorder, your uterine tissue (specifically, the endometrium — the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus) grows outside of your uterus as well.
The tissue growing in the wrong area still acts like regular, healthy uterine tissue: It thickens as you approach your period, and then it breaks down and bleeds. Except this tissue has nowhere to go, so it gets stuck. This causes inflammation, abrasions, scarring, and pain.
Pain from endometriosis is usually the most intense during your menstrual period, but it can occur at any point throughout the month. You may also experience pain during intercourse and during bowel movements, as well as excessive bleeding (during your period or not).
Can endometriosis really cause infertility?
Endometriosis can indeed cause infertility: Up to 50% of women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant, or maintaining a pregnancy if they do conceive. Women who already have infertility are also more likely to have endometriosis than women who don’t struggle with infertility — even if they don’t have a diagnosis.
Doctors and scientists don’t know for sure how endometriosis leads to infertility, but they think it may be for a number of reasons, including:
- Altered pelvis anatomy
- Inflammation in the reproductive organs
- Scarring and adhesions in the reproductive organs
- Failure to ovulate
How to get pregnant when you have endometriosis
Women with endometriosis can get pregnant, and then successfully and healthfully bring a baby to term. Your ability to conceive depends on many factors, such as the severity of your endometriosis, any other health conditions you have, your partner’s fertility and health status, and your age.
Remember, endometriosis isn’t an automatic diagnosis for infertility: You still have a chance to conceive naturally. For the best odds, keep track of your ovulation and menstrual cycles, and try to have intercourse during your fertile window, or the time when you’re most fertile.
In the end, if endometriosis or other health problems are keeping you and your partner from starting a family, you should explore your options for fertility treatment. Infertility can truly be devastating, but you do have options.
To learn more about fertility treatment or to have a consultation with a doctor at New England Women’s Healthcare, schedule an appointment with us: Call our Woburn, Massachusetts, clinic at 781-787-3003 or request your appointment online. You can also send a message to the team here on our website.