As a specialist fertility clinic, we understand the profound effect that endometriosis can have on a person's mental and physical well-being. This is especially true for our patients who struggle with endometriosis and want to start their families.
We’re coming to the end of March, which means the end of Endometriosis Awareness Month is fast approaching. Before the month is overs, we want to increase awareness, highlight symptoms of this often-overlooked condition and examine how endometriosis can affect fertility. Read more to discover the symptoms of endometriosis, when to seek a diagnosis and how it can affect fertility.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition that occurs in women and those assigned female at birth (AFAB). It is an inflammatory condition where tissue, similar to the lining of the uterus, grows in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes or bowel. It can be painful and impact a person's personal and professional relationships, mental health, quality of life and even fertility.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
- The most common signs of endometriosis are:
- Pelvic pain
- Period pain that stops you from doing normal activities
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Painful bowel movements
- Pain when urinating
- Difficulty getting pregnant
It can be difficult to diagnose endometriosis as the symptoms are so varied. Additionally, every person with endometriosis will experience them differently. For example, if someone has had heavier periods or painful cramps throughout their life, they may not realise that they could have endometriosis. If you have symptoms of endometriosis, such as those mentioned above, you should make an appointment with your GP, especially if they have a big impact on your life.
Endometriosis UK recommends that those seeking an endometriosis diagnosis record their symptoms and experiences. You can prepare for your appointment using their helpful pain and symptoms diary. Your GP may recommend treatments if they think you have endometriosis or refer you to a specialist gynaecologist.
How common is endometriosis?
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women and those AFAB of reproductive age in the UK. That's approximately 1.5 million diagnosed cases nationwide, similar to diabetes or asthma.
Does endometriosis affect fertility?
Endometriosis UK states that although endometriosis does not necessarily cause infertility, there is a link between the condition and certain fertility concerns – such as damage to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. There is also a very small increase in the risk of miscarriage for someone with endometriosis.
We encourage patients concerned about their condition to seek diagnosis and treatment with their GP if they intend to start a family through assisted reproduction, as severe endometriosis can also impact your chances of conception via treatments such as IVF.
The good news is, even with moderate to severe cases of endometriosis, natural conception is possible. Research suggests that 60-70% of women, and those AFAB, diagnosed with endometriosis can get pregnant without the need for fertility treatment.
If you have struggled to conceive naturally, our specialist fertility consultants will do all they can to ensure you get the best possible chance of success through treatments such as IVF or IUI. We can even offer egg freezing to increase your chances of a future pregnancy.
One of the most common forms of fertility treatment is IVF, also known as In-vitro Fertilisation. During IVF, eggs are collected from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm by a specialist embryologist in a laboratory. The fertilised embryo is then returned to the uterus to develop. You may consider IVF if there is damage to your ovaries or fallopian tubes due to Endometriosis.
IUI – or Intrauterine Insemination or 'artificial insemination' – is a fertility treatment that encourages pregnancy by placing prepared sperm close to the egg for fertilisation. As endometriosis has been known to impact ovulation, leading to irregular cycles or difficulty tracking your cycles, IUI ensures the best possible chances for fertilisation.
You may choose to freeze your eggs if surgery is recommended to treat your endometriosis. Freezing your eggs could increase your chances of a future pregnancy while you concentrate on getting your endometriosis under control.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis and want to look into your fertility options, you can contact our New Patient Team on 0161 300 2730, or book a free 1-2-1 consultation using our online form. Many of our consultants specialise in Endometriosis, so if you suffer with the condition, you will get support from one of our specialists.
Last updated: 24th March 2023