Can Endometriosis Impact Fertility?

Shot of a young woman experiencing stomach pain while lying on her bed at home

Endometriosis is a chronic disease that can cause many uncomfortable and painful symptoms. There’s also a link between endometriosis and infertility. Learn about what endometriosis is and how endometriosis can cause infertility in our guide below.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when tissue – like the uterus lining – grows outside the uterus. This inflammation can lead to scar tissue, including adhesions and fibroids, throughout the body. The scar tissue is one reason why there’s a high endometriosis-infertility rate.

According to the World Health Organization, it affects nearly 10% or 190 million women and girls globally.

What Are the Symptoms and Causes of Endometriosis?

Endometriosis symptoms can include:

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Painful periods
  • Pain during/after sexual intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements and urination
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal bloating and nausea
  • Depression or anxiety

Endometriosis is a complex disease caused by various factors, from excess estrogen to menstrual blood flowing back through the fallopian tubes during menstruation and allowing cells to implant outside the uterus. There’s no known way to prevent endometriosis.

Can Endometriosis Cause Infertility?

Endometriosis can cause infertility. Approximately 30- 50% of women with endometriosis experience infertility due to:

  • Scarring in the fallopian tubes
  • Changes in the anatomy and inflammation in the pelvis
  • Altered immune system function
  • Changing to eggs’ hormone environment
  • Negative impact on egg quality
  • Impaired implantation for pregnancy

The severity of endometriosis can vary greatly, so doctors usually give women a rating between stage 1 and stage 4. This indicates the amount, location, and depth of endometriosis. The higher the stage, the higher rate of endometriosis-related infertility.

How is Endometriosis Diagnosed?

If you’re experiencing fertility issues or any of the above symptoms, your doctor may recommend an ultrasound. The ultrasound may show cysts inside the ovary that supports further investigation into endometriosis and your infertility.

A laparoscopy procedure is the only way to confirm endometriosis. During this procedure, a small tube passes through a small incision in your abdomen to give a clear view of your uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and nearby organs.

Your doctor may be able to remove excess tissue during this procedure to help lessen the effect of endometriosis on your fertility. A recent Canadian study found that this can enhance fertility in infertile women.

How Can You Treat Endometriosis?

There’s no cure for endometriosis, so treatment options focus on alleviating symptoms. Many endometriosis treatment options can cause infertility, like contraceptive steroids and other hormone management options that affect ovulation. 

To help improve your chances of pregnancy, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove lesions, adhesions, and scar tissue. Intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization may also be used to achieve pregnancy.

A combined approach of surgery and medication helps improve your chances of conception, but exact success rates are unknown.

Your Partner for Addressing Endometriosis and Infertility

If you’re one of the many folks managing endometriosis symptoms, Mandell’s Clinical Pharmacy is here to partner with you through your journey ahead. Learn more about the infertility diagnosis process and the range of treatment options available.