If you’re one of the 200 million-plus women diagnosed with endometriosis, you know the disruption that the chronic pain and intense symptoms can cause your daily life. It can seem like endometriosis affects every aspect of your life, from your emotional well-being to your personal relationships to how you function at work.
You may have started to wonder how this potentially debilitating condition impacts your ability to have a baby. The dedicated care team at Yakov Levy MD PC, with offices in Midtown East, Manhattan, and Forest Hills, Queens, New York, understand this concern.
Dr. Yakov Levy specializes in helping women with endometriosis find relief from the chronic pain and other uncomfortable symptoms the condition brings. He’s dedicated to helping women with endometriosis conceive when the time is right. Here, we explain more about endometriosis and how it can impact your fertility.
What is endometriosis?
The endometrial tissue inside your uterus prepares each month for the implantation of a fertilized egg by thickening. If you don’t get pregnant, this lining sheds with your period and the cycle starts again once your period ends.
With endometriosis, however, this tissue grows outside of your uterus, on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, or other areas of your body. This tissue still grows, thickens, and attempts to shed in response to your changing hormone levels throughout your menstrual cycle.
However, because it can’t leave your body, this misplaced endometrial tissue develops into lesions, irritating the organs and tissues in the area and causing scars, ovarian cysts, and adhesions to form.
In addition to severe menstrual cramps and chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis can cause other uncomfortable symptoms, such as heavy or abnormal bleeding, nausea, fatigue, trouble with urination or bowel movements, and painful intercourse.
Does endometriosis impact fertility?
Yes. In fact, endometriosis is one of the top causes of infertility in women. Women with mild-to-moderate endometriosis may not have issues getting pregnant, but about 50% of women with moderate-to-severe endometriosis struggle with infertility.
One of the issues that contributes to endometriosis-related infertility is the fact that it takes women about 10 years to get diagnosed with the condition. In the meantime, the scar tissue and lesions caused by endometriosis grow, making fertility a challenge.
The scar tissue and adhesions from chronic endometriosis can also stop the egg and sperm from uniting. This can be because of interference with ovulation or by making it difficult or impossible for the egg or sperm to travel through your fallopian tubes.
Other ways endometriosis can impact your fertility include:
- Stopping the lining of the uterus from thickening properly, making it difficult or impossible for a fertilized egg to implant
- Causing chronic low-grade inflammation that damages your eggs and creates an inhospitable environment for sperm
In addition to making it difficult to conceive, these problems caused by endometriosis also increase your chances of having a miscarriage after conception.
Options for treating endometriosis
The good news is that different treatment options for endometriosis are available depending on the severity of your symptoms and how the condition interferes with your daily life.
For mild-to-moderate endometriosis, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers, like ibuprofen or naproxen, may be enough to manage your pain. Different lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and learning stress management and relaxation techniques also help with symptoms. Certain birth control methods, like an IUD, may also be helpful.
When endometriosis impacts your ability to become pregnant, Dr. Levy may recommend a medication that stops ovulation and menstruation to halt the progression of endometriosis, called gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist. Once treatment is complete, your cycle resumes with a greater chance of getting pregnant.
For severe cases of endometriosis, Dr. Levy may recommend surgery to remove the problematic endometrial tissue. Once this tissue is removed, you may have an easier time getting pregnant. Minimally invasive laparoscopic methods offer more precision than traditional open surgery with less risk and downtime.
If you have endometriosis, take control of your fertility with the help of Yakov Levy MD PC. Contact the office nearest you or schedule an appointment online. We also offer telehealth consultations for your convenience and safety.