Endometriosis affects 11% of women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44, and it has become increasingly more common for women over the age of 30. Seeing as how many women may decide to have a family later in life, this fact about endometriosis is a crucial one to understand so as to avoid its onset.
With that in mind, here are a few other things to consider about the health problem when it comes to pregnancy risks.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an often painful condition that results in an abnormal growth of the endometrium (uterine lining). Normally, the endometrium forms on the inside of the uterus where it will be shed during each menstrual cycle, but endometriosis causes the lining to form on the outside of the uterus, creating a range of problems for the reproductive system.
In a healthy female patient, the lining within the uterus serves as a foundation for the fertilized egg to attach with. Once her cycle begins, the lining will thicken to prepare for the embryo, and if pregnancy is successful, it will remain in the uterus with the proper conditions for growth.
However, if pregnancy doesn’t occur, the lining is shed and the process will begin again at the next cycle. When endometriosis occurs, that inner lining grows and surpasses the confines of the uterus, forming tissue in the pelvic area and around the ovaries. In some cases, tissue can even grow near the fallopian tubes, rectum, urinary tract, and vagina.
Now, it may seem harmless that this tissue has formed outside of the uterus, but the problem is that it still obeys hormonal changes as if it were growing properly inside the uterus. When the next menstrual cycle arrives, shedding will occur wherever the lining has formed. Unlike the uterine lining that sheds and is released vaginally, endometriosis keeps the lining within the body and accumulates harmful scar tissue over time. This scar tissue can eventually take the form of adhesions or cysts.
Common Symptoms of Endometriosis
Endometriosis can be tough to recognize on your own, but here are a few common symptoms that may represent its presence:
- Constant pelvic pain, regardless of menstruation
- Pain during sex
- Frequent spotting between cycles
- Heavy periods
- Painful bowel movements during menstruation
- Painful urination during menstruation
- Inconsistent cycles
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, it may be a good idea to consult with your doctor or fertility specialist.
If symptoms are ignored for too long, major health problems can arise, causing a variety of other issues, including infertility.
Unfortunately, many women may have endometriosis and not know about it simply because there are no significant warning signs. However, being aware of your body and informing your doctor about any irregularities will put you in a much better position to achieve a healthy pregnancy.
Endometriosis and Infertility
The reasons why endometriosis causes infertility in women are somewhat unclear, but research shows there’s a distinct correlation between the development of scar tissue and the likelihood of infertility. For example, tissue growth that overpowers a specific reproductive organ causes it to cease proper functionality. This means that if the ovaries are affected, it may prohibit the release of an egg to the fallopian tubes.
An attack to the ovaries can also prevent the entire ovulation process from working normally, which will no doubt result in infertility. Furthermore, abnormal tissue growth can get in the way of the egg fertilization process and weaken the integrity of ovarian follicles, stifling a couple’s ability to conceive.
Other reasons for infertility may be that a hormone imbalance is causing the abnormal growth, which in turn disrupts the normal hormone levels needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy. PCOS is another common cause of infertility among women, and the condition could be a reason why endometriosis has occurred. Nonetheless, having endometriosis doesn’t mean that your chances of having a family are nonexistent. The disorder itself has many treatment options, and a trained fertility specialist will be able to pinpoint your sources of symptoms and come up with a plan to solve them.
Treat Endometriosis with Laurel Fertility Care
Having endometriosis can be overwhelming, but we want you to know there are treatment options available to you. By meeting with one of our fertility specialists, you’ll be able to gain valuable insight into the condition, as well as different ways to eliminate the problem.
Our team of experts can use a variety of methods to help you achieve a healthy pregnancy, such as laparoscopic surgery, in vitro fertilization (IVF), or an interuterine insemination (IUI). These procedures have a proven track record for bypassing the obstacles that endometriosis creates, while providing you with the relief that your future family is certainly attainable.
To learn more about endometriosis or to share other questions or concerns, please schedule a phone consultation with us today.