Endometriosis is a fairly common gynecological disorder in which tissue that is similar to the uterine tissue, known as endometrium, grows outside of the uterus. These growths generally occur on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and pelvic tissue lining.
The symptoms vary greatly from one woman to another, with some women experiencing extremely mild symptoms and others experiencing intense and disruptive pain. According to some studies, approximately 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis will also struggle with infertility.
How Endometriosis Can Lead to Infertility
During a regular menstrual cycle, the endometrium thickens, breaks down, and molts in the uterus before exiting the body through the vaginal opening. In endometriosis, this tissue develops outside of the womb and, being unable to leave the body, becomes trapped. This can complicate fertility in a variety of ways, including:
- Causing inflammation in the pelvic system
- Scarring the fallopian tubes
- Altering the structure of the pelvis
- Disrupting the eggs’ hormonal environment
- Creating adhesions, which are bands of scar tissue that can potentially bind organs together
- Blocking the fallopian tubes
- Preventing eggs from entering the fallopian tubes
- Preventing ovulation from occurring
The likelihood of these complications happening, as well as their severity, depends on how advanced the endometriosis case is.
The Stages of Endometriosis
Endometriosis is classified in four stages. These stages aren’t correlated with the level of pain and discomfort you might be feeling, but rather with the aggressiveness of tissue growth.
Stage I: Minimal
In this stage, there are a small number of lesions or implants, which tend to be small and shallow in nature. There may be inflammation as well, but little to no scar tissue.
Stage II: Mild
This stage is similar to Stage I, but the lesions and implants are more numerous. They are still shallow and small. There is still a very minimal amount of scar tissue, if any.
Stage III: Moderate
In this stage, endometrium tissue can be found in the abdomen, on the ovaries, or along the pelvic lining. There may also be a higher number of lesions. Adhesion may occur and bind the organs together.
Stage IV: Severe
As the most advanced stage of endometriosis, Stage IV is characterized by the presence of deep tissue implantation, large ovarian cysts, and thick adhesions throughout the pelvic area.
Getting Pregnant With Endometriosis
Although endometriosis can make conceiving difficult, it doesn’t automatically mean that you will become infertile. Many women with endometriosis are able to effectively manage the condition and still conceive through natural methods. For some women, it may be a matter of controlling endometriosis using hormone therapy or surgery to remove the endometrium growths.
Even if you are unable to get pregnant naturally, there are fertility treatment options that can help with endometriosis, including intrauterine insemination (IUI), in vitro fertilization (IVF), and egg donation. If you have endometriosis and are concerned about your fertility, contact Fertility Solutions to discuss your assisted reproductive options.