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Houston Fertility Journal

    Endometriosis and Infertility: What You Need to Know

    January 10, 2017 / by Center of Reproductive Medicine   

    Center of Reproductive Medicine

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    Whenever infertility stands in the way of your family’s future, the impact inevitably runs deep and can lead to frustration, sorrow and even anger. When you and your loved ones are anxious to bring a new baby into the world, few things are worse than feeling like you may never see your bundle of joy gazing into your eyes.

    Of course, thanks to modern advances, a great many options await those families struggling with infertility, providing the opportunity to evaluate the underlying problem and confidently move forward to solve it. In many cases, a condition known as endometriosis may stand in the way of conception. Let’s delve into the relationship between endometriosis and infertility a bit deeper.

    What Is Endometriosis?

    Most people may be unfamiliar with endometriosis, but this condition is actually relatively common, especially among women facing fertility issues. As much as half of infertile women suffer from it, sometimes (but not always) resulting in pelvic or abdominal pain -- among a host of other possible symptoms -- most strongly associated with sexual activity and menstruation.

    Endometriosis occurs when the exterior uterine tissue develops into the same tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, known as endometrium. This condition can affect the outside of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and even the bladder and intestines and, in some cases, may develop into a cyst called endometrioma. Though a cyst may be visible over an ultrasound, the only way to positively diagnose endometriosis is through surgery.

    The connection between endometriosis and infertility has long been debated but appears to have grown in recent years. Studies show that infertile women are six to eight times more likely to have the condition than fertile women, and researchers have addressed potential contributing factors such as pelvic anatomy, endocrine and ovulatory abnormalities and peritoneal function.

    At the moment, the “pelvic factor” seems to be the central point of much of the research, with findings so far indicating that pelvis and peritubal adhesions -- in which two membranes abnormally come together -- may play a role in endometriosis and impair ovarian function.

    Exploring Your Treatment Options

    While endometriosis may sound scary (and indeed its effects can be disastrous), those of you who may be suffering from this condition are not without treatment options. As far as pain relief, evidence shows that birth control pills and other medications can alleviate some of the most common symptoms of endometriosis. However, the best chance to truly seek a more comprehensive solution is to have a laparoscopy to determine if endometriosis is the culprit behind your symptoms and, as the case may be, infertility issues.

    In fact, individuals with endometriosis who are looking to become pregnant may wish to opt for a long-term surgical solution, but we recommend reaching out to a fertility specialist to discuss the best course of action, since surgery can also put women at a risk of decreasing their chances of conception.

    For women not quite ready to get pregnant, the birth control pill is a solid alternative in the meantime, especially as it can help prevent endometriosis from recurring, thus preserving fertility for the future. Essentially, proceed with caution no matter what you decide to do and explore all your options as well as the future impact your decision may have.

    Hope on the Horizon

    Whether or not endometriosis is affecting your efforts to conceive a child, it’s certainly worth it to explore the possibility if any of the above sounds relevant to your situation. Although infertility may make bringing a new baby into this world seem impossible, it’s more important than ever that you remain resilient as you and your family chase after your dream.

    Rest assured that hope survives even in the face of adversity. Fertility assistance is available to overcome the obstacles you’re facing, but you must stay relentless and keep your resolve stronger to weather the storm. Undoubtedly, the end result of a beautiful baby in your arms, will make it all worthwhile in the end.

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    Topics: Infertility, Treatment, Endometriosis

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