I Have Endometriosis: Can I Still Get Pregnant?

Millions of women live with endometriosis, a chronic gynecological problem that can cause painful periods and make it harder to conceive naturally. Find out how “endo” can affect your fertility — and learn what you can do about it.

As one of the most common gynecological disorders among women of reproductive age, endometriosis affects almost seven million women in the United States — or over 11% of female adults. Among women in their 30s and 40s, “endo” is a frequent cause of persistent pelvic pain, heavy or painful periods, and infertility

At New Beginnings OB/GYN in Shenandoah, Texas, we understand the disruptive effects that endometriosis can have on your health, wellness, and future pregnancy desires. But we have good news: The right treatment approach can help minimize disruptive endo symptoms and improve fertility. 

In recognition of Endometriosis Awareness Month, Dr. Christina Parmar and Dr. Rania Ibrahim explain how endometriosis can affect your fertility and what you can do about it. 

A short tutorial on endometriosis

When you have endometriosis, the tissue that’s a lot like the membrane that lines the inside of your uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the organ where it doesn’t belong. These areas of abnormal endometrium-like tissue — known as endometrial implants — can appear on: 

  • The outer surface of your uterus
  • Your ovaries or fallopian tubes
  • Your cervix, vagina, or vulva  
  • Your bladder, bowels, or rectum 
  • The tissues that line your pelvis
  • The bottom of your diaphragm 

Like the endometrium inside your uterus, endometrial implants thicken with blood, break down, and try to shed through every menstrual cycle. But since they can’t exit your body with your monthly period, shedding endometrial implants remain trapped inside your pelvic region. 

How does endometriosis affect fertility?

As they go through their monthly cycle, these trapped endometrial implants can: 

  • Create an inflammatory environment 
  • Cause the formation of adhesions and scar tissue
  • Give rise to a range of painful symptoms

The cyclical nature of endometrial implants and the adhesions they create can lead to everything from period pain (dysmenorrhea), heavy menstrual bleeding, and spotting between periods to chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse (dyspareunia), and digestive discomfort.  

The mechanisms that cause endo symptoms also make the disorder a leading cause of fertility problems among women. Experts believe up to 50% of female infertility cases are a product of endometriosis. 

Endometriosis can make it more difficult to conceive by creating an inflammatory environment that undermines normal ovarian and uterine function, makes it harder for a sperm and an egg to unite, or reduces the likelihood of successful embryo implantation in the uterus. 

Endo can also block conception physically if endometrial implants (or their subsequent scar adhesions) obstruct the fallopian tubes. In later stages, scar tissue adhesions may also cause detrimental structural changes, like kinks, in the fallopian tubes or ovaries.  

Getting pregnant with endometriosis

If you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis, don’t assume you can’t get pregnant alone. Endo and its effects on fertility differ for everyone, and many women conceive naturally with little issue. 

But suppose you’ve been trying to get pregnant for six months or longer without success. In that case, our team can perform a comprehensive exam to determine how the disorder impacts your fertility. Then, we can create a fully tailored treatment plan that eases your symptoms and improves your chances of getting pregnant. To determine the right approach, we consider the following:

  • The severity of your endometrial damage
  • Endometrial implant number and locations   
  • Your age and plans for future pregnancies
  • The nature and severity of your symptoms 

You may be a candidate for minimally invasive surgery to remove endometrial implants or adhesions. While this procedure can help alleviate pain and boost your chances of getting pregnant, repeated procedures can lead to scar tissue which may be just as problematic. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of surgery concerning your case.    

In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be the quickest path to a successful pregnancy for women with moderate to severe endometriosis. Since IVF involves uniting the egg and sperm in a lab rather than the uterus, women with endometriosis experience similar rates of IVF success as those who don’t have the condition.   

While endometriosis can’t be cured, there’s a lot we can do to help you manage it effectively and protect your fertility. Call or click online today to learn more or make an appointment at New Beginnings OB/GYN in Shenandoah, Texas.