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What is Endometriosis and How Does Affect Fertility?

Endometriosis micrograph

As it's Endometriosis Awareness Month around the world, it is a good time to go back to basics and review what is is and how it can affect one's fertility.

Endometriosis, or "endo" as it's commonly known, is a disorder in which the glands within the uterus are found in other parts of the pelvis such as the ovary, fallopian tube, bowels, or bladder, which has a strong association with infertility.

Endometriosis can often cause painful periods, pelvic and abdominal pain—sometimes cyclical in nature, and other times constant—pain with intercourse and ovarian cysts known as endometriomas. For many individuals, these symptoms can significantly affect their quality of life. 

It is possible, however, for women to have endometriosis without having any symptoms or pain at all, and still find that it contributes to their infertility. 

Traditionally, a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis is made through surgery, however a presumptive diagnosis is often made based on an individual's medical history and physical exam. 

Unfortunately, the majority of treatments for endometriosis don’t allow for pregnancy because they work by shutting down the ovaries to help give the endometriosis a break from the hormones, and resulting inflammation. Most medical forms of treatment have not clearly shown to help treat endometriosis-related infertility, but can provide some pain relief for those with endometriosis-related pain. 

Endometriosis and Fertility

There are, however, options and treatment considerations for patients with endometriosis who are having issues with infertility or are beginning their conception journey.

If you have questions or concerns, I suggest you reach out to your friendly neighborhood OB/GYN or fertility specialist to discuss it further.

Support

If have endo and you need support, there are a number of organizations you may find helpful. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we cannot peronsally endorse any of these organizations idividually, but hopefully at least one will help you find the support that you need:

 

Author
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev Dr. Nidhee Sachdev Nidhee Sachdev, MD has trained among the most prestigious and diverse medical programs in the country, including fellowship training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the prestigious New York University (NYU) Langone Fertility Center in New York City where she conducted research on preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she earned the academic distinction of chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology, and trained under a top recurrent pregnancy loss expert. Dr. Sachdev is passionate about providing individualized, collaborative patient care. She started her medical career right here in Orange County, earning her Doctor of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.

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