Endometriosis is thought to affect up to two million women in the UK. If you’re one of them, you may be concerned about how the condition can affect your fertility.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is where cells similar to those in the lining of your uterus grow elsewhere in the body. These cells react every month as those in your uterus do during your period, meaning the cells grow and bleed. As the blood has no way of leaving the body, it causes inflammation and pain, and scar tissue builds up around any areas and organs where endometriosis is. This is typically in the pelvis, fallopian tubes and around the ovaries, preventing these from functioning properly.
Why does endometriosis affect fertility?
Whether the condition affects your fertility largely depends on where the tissue is growing in the body. Endometriosis can cause infertility if it is growing over the reproductive organs. UK organisation Endometriosis UK estimates that 30 to 40 per cent of women with the condition have trouble conceiving. If you have mild endometriosis and no scarring has occurred yet, you have a chance of getting pregnant. However, if your condition is severe with extensive scarring affecting your fallopian tubes and ovaries, it can be difficult to conceive without infertility treatment. This is because the egg and sperm cannot travel through the tubes to be fertilised normally, and if it is within the ovaries this can prevent ovulation.
What are my infertility treatment options for endometriosis?
In some cases, the endometrial tissue can be removed, giving you time to be able to try and conceive naturally without help. The use of certain fertility drugs can also help to stimulate ovulation, if you aren’t ovulating properly due to scar tissue or abnormal hormones.
Dependent on the severity of the condition, the most common treatment is IVF, where the egg is fertilised outside of the body and then put back into your uterus in the hope it implants as in normal pregnancy.Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) can also be used in conjunction with IVF, where a single healthy sperm is injected directly into the egg.
Last updated: 12th January 2021