When you’re ready to start a family but fail to get pregnant month after month, you may wonder if endometriosis has something to do with your fertility problems. About 50%-70% of women with endometriosis can conceive without medical intervention. But another 30%-50% struggle with getting pregnant.
If you’re facing female infertility, endometriosis may be one of the factors involved. The severity of your endometriosis affects your chances of conception and treatment choices.
At OC Fertility in Newport Beach, California, expert OB/GYNs Sharon Moayeri, MD, Nidhee Sachdev, MD, and their team have the knowledge, skill, and experience needed to help you overcome fertility challenges, including endometriosis. Here’s what to know about endometriosis and your journey toward having a baby.
Endometriosis affects your entire pelvis
Endometriosis is the overgrowth of a particular type of tissue that normally lines the uterus. This tissue is called the endometrium. The endometrium becomes engorged with blood and nutrients right before conception (or your period).
If you have endometriosis, the endometrium grows outside your uterus, where it performs no actual function. However, this abnormal tissue can prevent other organs from functioning optimally. It can also cause pain during your period because it can’t exit your body when it’s shed during menstruation.
Endometriosis can grow over your fallopian tubes and ovaries, changing their relationship with one another. The alterations in their structure may prevent them from releasing eggs normally.
The inflammation associated with endometriosis may even change the environment in your reproductive organs so that fertilized eggs and embryos aren’t as robust as they should be. Endometriosis may also make it more difficult for an embryo to implant properly into the uterine lining.
Diagnosis can be a treatment
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis previously or not, as part of your fertility workup, we may recommend a procedure called laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery in which we insert a miniature camera and tiny surgical tools into a small incision in your abdomen.
If we see abnormal endometrial tissue during this diagnostic procedure, we may be able to remove it. In some mild cases, that may be sufficient to restore your fertility. However, depending on your stage of disease, we may recommend other therapies or procedures.
Treating stage I and II endometriosis
As long as you’re under age 39, your ovarian reserves are sufficient, and your partner’s sperm are normal and plentiful, surgical removal of minimal-mild (i.e., stages 1 and 2) endometriosis may be enough to help you conceive. However, it only increases your chances of conception in the next year by a little less than 9%.
Treating stage III and IV endometriosis
When you have moderate to severe endometriosis (i.e., stages III and IV), removing abnormal endometrial tissue has more of an impact on your fertility. As long as you’re under 39 and neither you nor your partner have other fertility challenges, your chances of conceiving spontaneously within three years may jump by 50%.
Increasing your odds despite endometriosis
Although laparoscopic removal of abnormal endometrial tissue may make your periods lighter and less painful and may slightly increase your odds of spontaneous pregnancy, you may need more assistance. If you’ve been struggling with infertility for a while, you could benefit from going to other fertility treatments that help you get pregnant and stay pregnant.
One way to increase your chances of conception is to help the egg and sperm meet through artificial insemination (AI). During AI, your partner makes a sperm donation that we insert through your cervix into your uterus on the day you’re ovulating. We may administer a drug that encourages ovulation.
To increase your chances of conception, we may also recommend taking fertility drugs known as gonadotrophins, increasing the number of mature eggs you release each month. The presence of more eggs than the usual single egg increases your chances of having twins or triplets rather than a singleton.
In vitro fertilization
If your endometriosis is severe, AI and even superovulation may not be sufficient to increase your chance of conception. Or, if you’ve failed multiple rounds of AI with or without superovulation, you may need in vitro fertilization (IVF).
With IVF, you take fertility drugs that make you release multiple eggs per cycle. However, we remove the eggs from your body and fertilize them in a lab with your partner’s sperm donation. Once they develop into embryos, we implant a healthy embryo in your uterus.
Don’t despair or give up on your dreams for a child just because you have endometriosis. Set up a fertility consultation today by calling us at 949-706-2229 or booking an appointment online.