Infertility is frustrating and heartbreaking, and, unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon — as many as 15% of couples are unable to conceive after one year of unprotected sex. About 11% of women today struggle with infertility.
There are many causes of infertility 一 for both men and women 一 but before you can embark on any treatment plan, it’s important to identify the cause of your infertility. Your treatment plan depends on it.
In this blog, Dr. Essam Taymour at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group in Long Beach, California, highlights one particular condition 一 endometriosis 一 and how it affects your fertility.
What is endometriosis?
Your endometrium, a mucous membrane that lines your uterus, thickens throughout your menstrual cycle. If you conceive, the thickened endometrium supports the implanted embryo. However, if you don’t conceive, the thickened tissue sheds during your period.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue implants outside of your uterus. In time, endometrial lesions can form in your pelvic region, on your ovaries or in your fallopian tubes, or even on other organs, such as your bladder or bowel. When endometrial tissue grows where it’s not supposed to grow, you may experience heavy periods, pain, and, in some cases, infertility.
How endometriosis affects your fertility
Not only is endometriosis notorious for causing pain, but the lesions can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant. Between 30%-50% of women with endometriosis may experience infertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Blocking your fallopian tubes
If endometrial growths block your fallopian tubes — a pair of hollow, muscular ducts where egg and sperm unite — the sperm may not even reach your egg. Endometrial lesions can also lead to the development of scar tissue that causes blockage.
Reducing your egg quality
Endometrial scar tissue can compromise the blood flow to your ovaries; if that happens, it can reduce your ovaries’ oxygen supply. This can impact the egg maturation cycle as well as reduce egg quality.
Changing your hormonal environment
Women with endometriosis tend to have higher estrogen levels than women without endometriosis. That’s because the endometrial lesions also produce estrogen, which adds to the overall level of estrogen in your body. High estrogen can cause unpredictable or abnormal periods, making it difficult for you to determine when you’re ovulating.
Explore fertility-sparing endometriosis treatments
While a hysterectomy can help permanently treat endometriosis by removing your uterus and/or ovaries, it’s a controversial option, especially if you’re not yet finished growing your family. A number of fertility-sparing endometriosis treatments can help manage your symptoms and improve your chance of conceiving.
Treatment for endometriosis that’s affecting your fertility may include hormone therapy or surgery. Dr. Taymour utilizes minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove the excess tissue while protecting your reproductive system and the surrounding areas.
In some cases, you may need additional treatments to help boost fertility. Other fertility treatments include medication to stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs or in vitro fertilization.
Help for endometriosis concerns
The important takeaway is that endometriosis can be treated, and many women with endometriosis conceive and go on to deliver healthy, full-term babies.
Whether you’re struggling to conceive or you’re plagued by the symptoms of endometriosis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 562-247-3038. You can also use our online appointment request tool anytime to book a visit.