Conceiving while experiencing endometriosis can be hard, but people with moderate or mild endometriosis can get pregnant with treatment. Endometriosis causes pain during sex, digestive problems, painful periods, and unexplained infertility. Any person in their reproductive age can be affected, but the severity of the condition decreases as menopause kicks in.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disorder during which tissues like the ones lining the uterus grow outside of it. In rare cases, endometrial-like tissues can be found beyond the pelvic organs. These tissues break down and bleed with every menstrual cycle.
The condition is associated with painful periods, excessive bleeding, nausea, constipation, and bloating. According to the WHO, the disease affects about 190 million people worldwide, and 1 out of 10 women in the US alone. Infertility issues can develop from the side effects of endometriosis.
How Endometriosis Affects Infertility
Endometriosis has been associated with unexplained infertility in the following ways:
1. Anatomical distortions
When a person is not pregnant, the uterus lining breaks down during the menstrual cycle. Endometrial-like tissues experience it concurrently. The result is painful menstruation, scarring, and inflammation.
The scarring and pelvic inflammation can make organs stick together, leading to anatomical distortion. Disrupted reproduction processes make it difficult for a person to conceive because the scars in the tubes lead to blockages. The risk of infertility increases when scarring treatment is delayed or goes untreated.
When pelvic inflammation is left untreated, the fallopian tubes might get damaged permanently. The result is infertility and increased possibilities of ectopic pregnancy. Periodic inflammation minimizes the chances of natural conception.
2. Scarred Fallopian Tubes
Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes are the leading cause of female infertility. Tubal blockages can result from endometriosis, and many people may not experience any symptoms.
The growth of endometrium tissues can block or scar the fallopian tubes, causing tubal infertility. Conception happens in the fallopian tubes: when they’re blocked, sperms are prevented from reaching the ovary.
Blocked or scarred fallopian tubes may lead to regular or mild pain on one side of your abdomen. Many people won’t experience this pain but might have difficulty conceiving. In some cases, there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy
3. Change in the Hormonal Environment
Apart from painful and heavy periods, endometriosis also alters the hormonal environment. The condition causes estrogen dominance, which can trigger inflammation. Some effects of estrogen dominance include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
Estrogen dominance is linked with PCOS, which can cause hormone imbalance. As a result, ovulation will not occur. When ovulation fails, the progesterone will not be produced, hence the excessive amount of estrogen. With a high estrogen level, conceiving naturally becomes hard, leading to infertility.
4. Pain During Sex
Conception happens through sex, and getting pregnant can be difficult when you experience uterine pain from endometriosis. Endometriosis causes extreme pain during and after intercourse. People experiencing endometriosis may hesitate to be intimate during the fertility window, minimizing the chances of conception.
5. Altered Egg Quality
The growth of tissues around the reproductive organs causes inflammation. The inflammatory environment becomes hostile for any conception to happen, and it can alter the quality and maturation of the egg. Fertilization and implantation processes may be affected.
Due to the inflammation, the ability of ovaries to produce enough progesterone and estrogen is greatly affected. Scar tissues around and in the ovaries can alter blood circulation, minimizing oxygen supply to the ovaries. Deoxygenated eggs are of low quality with a slow maturation rate.
Diagnosing Infertility and Endometriosis
A gynecological exam by your doctor is the first step in diagnosing your infertility and endometriosis. Next, you may go through blood and imaging tests to check your uterus and reproductive organs. If you have difficulties conceiving, the doctor can suspect endometriosis.
Laparoscopy is the standard way of diagnosing endometriosis. The technology allows your surgeon examines what’s happening in and around your organs. Being a minimally invasive surgery, the doctor makes a small incision to take small patches and identify adhesions or scarred tissues.
The doctor can categorize your condition into different stages:
- Minimal: Minimal scar tissue and implants
- Mild: The scars and superficial implants are deeper in your body
- Moderate: Small cysts, deep implants, and filmy adhesions present.
- Severe: The severe stage indicates that there are large ovarian cysts, thick adhesions, and several deep implants.
Removing or treating endometriosis can decrease pain and boost your fertility. Surgery might not be curative, but it can improve symptoms and make the situation better. You should note that endometriosis can recur, so consult with your doctor to manage the disorder after the surgery.
Get Diagnosed to Treat Unexplained Infertility
People with endometriosis are more likely to experience unexplained infertility. Endometriosis is treatable, and you may be able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. Talk to your doctor for a diagnosis today.