Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?

Painful periods, heavy bleeding, and cramping could be signs that you have a gynecological condition called endometriosis that affects 1 in 10 women and girls in the United States. The endometrium is a special mucus-rich tissue that lines your uterus. Before your period, the endometrium grows new blood vessels and thickens with nutrient-rich blood as it prepares to nourish and support a fertilized egg -- and eventually, a baby.

If you don’t become pregnant, the endometrium sheds and the blood-rich tissue exits your body through your vagina, a process that you know as menstruation. When you have endometriosis, the endometrial tissue grows on the outside of your uterus as well as inside, and it can even grow over other organs, including your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bowels.

Each month, all of your endometrial tissue swells with blood. But the engorged endometrium that’s outside your uterine cavity can’t exit through your vagina or anywhere else. The displaced endometrial tissue is trapped, which is why you get pelvic pain and cramps.

Endometriosis causes complications

If you have endometriosis, you’re probably already familiar with its main symptoms, such as bloating, cramping, and pain. However, the endometrial overgrowth can lead to problems throughout your reproductive system, including:

According to Resolve: The National Infertility Association, about 40% of women with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant. If you’re having trouble conceiving, and have endometriosis or the symptoms of endometriosis, our OB/GYN experts at Columbia Fertility Associates can help. We’re conveniently located in Bethesda, Maryland, Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

First step: Diagnosis

Endometriosis isn’t the only cause of heavy periods, cramping, and infertility. If you have symptoms of endometriosis but haven’t yet been diagnosed, our doctors conduct a pelvic exam to look for abnormalities. We may also order ultrasound testing to get a better look at your reproductive organs for signs of scarring, cysts, and adhesions.

Sometimes we can see signs of endometriosis on an ultrasound. However, sometimes your doctor may need to conduct a minor surgical operation called laparoscopy to look for evidence of endometrial tissue outside your uterus.

Second step: Treatment

Once we’ve confirmed a diagnosis of endometriosis, we come up with a treatment plan that’s based on your particular case. If you have mild endometriosis, you may respond to hormone therapy, such as the birth control pill, that slows the growth of endometrial tissue and prevents new endometrial lesions. You take the hormone therapy for short periods of time to resolve your endometriosis, and then stop it when you’re ready to become pregnant.

When you have a more severe case of endometriosis, we may recommend endometrial ablation or surgery. Whenever possible, we try to use minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as laparoscopy, to remove excess endometrial tissue. 

If you’re a candidate for surgery, or if surgery doesn’t resolve your problem, you could also choose in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help you get pregnant. We may recommend IVF instead of surgery if you have blocked fallopian tubes and adhesions caused by endometriosis. With IVF, your egg is fertilized with sperm in the laboratory and then the resulting healthy embryos are implanted in your uterus.

Don’t give up on your dreams of having a baby just because you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis. Get help by calling us today for an evaluation, or use our online booking form.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Tips for Navigating Your Winter Pregnancy

You’re pregnant! Congratulations! Just in time for the holidays, blustery weather, and a whole slew of other stressors. What’s the best way to keep yourself and your baby comfy and safe during the year’s most trying months? Here are a few tips.

How to Become an Egg Donor

Maybe you want to help an infertile couple create their family. Maybe you want to earn extra money. Maybe you want both. Either way, becoming an egg donor can be an emotionally and financially rewarding experience. Here’s how to do it.

Understanding Antiphospholipid Syndrome

You’re having trouble getting pregnant. You may have even had a miscarriage. Or two. Your doctor says you test positive for antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). What is APS, and will it prevent you from having a baby?

Common Causes of a Miscarriage

If you suffer the loss of a pregnancy, you may secretly wonder if it’s “your fault.” Was it because you kept up with your daily run, or had sex, or did something “wrong”? Most of the time, miscarriage is beyond your control.

Fertility Care and COVID19: What You Should Know

You’re eager to start your family. With quarantines and shutdowns, you certainly have enough time on your hands. But is it safe to get fertility treatments when the coronavirus pandemic is raging? The answer depends on your unique situation.

Unpleasant Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

You feel tired all the time, but you can’t fall asleep at night. Your periods are heavy and painful, and you keep gaining weight. Now your doctor says you may be infertile. Could unbalanced hormones be at the root of your symptoms?