Endometriosis

Topic: Can You Get Pregnant With Endometriosis?

Endometriosis can be found in up to 50% of women who experience infertility, but the link between the two conditions still isn’t completely understood.

Endometriosis is extremely common in the US: It’s believed that more than 11 percent of women ages 15 to 55 may have the condition, according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), a division of the US Department of Health & Human Services, and it’s more common among women in their 30s and 40s.

The condition is characterized by abnormal tissue growth—specifically when tissue similar to that which lines the uterus (known as endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, like on the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, bladder, and other organs in the body, usually nearest to the uterus.

That tissue, even when it grows outside of the uterus, still acts like it’s inside the uterus—that means it thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. For women with endometriosis, this can cause intense menstrual cramps, excessive bleeding during periods or bleeding in between periods, and even digestive issues, per the OWH.

Another symptom associated with endometriosis infertility. Johns Hopkins Medicine estimates that endometriosis can be found in 24 to 50% of women who experience infertility, making it one of the three major causes of female infertility. Sometimes, it’s only temporary; other times, it’s long lasting.

The effect of endometriosis on infertility still isn’t completely understood, and it’s important to keep in mind that, when experts discuss the topic of infertility and endometriosis, they’re speaking about theories rather than proven facts rooted in substantial research, Dan Martin, MD, scientific and medical director at The Endometriosis Foundation of America (EndoFound), tells Health.

That said, experts think that one reason endometriosis might affect fertility is that it causes scar tissue, which can actually cause a physical barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. “You can’t get a meeting of the two [because of] a direct blockage,” Ruben Alvero, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University Medical Center, tells Health.

Topic Discussed: Can You Get Pregnant With Endometriosis?

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