Endometriosis and infertility: Treatment options for women to get pregnant
Here's how endometriosis is linked with infertility and treatment options for women with endometriosis and fertility problems
Endometriosis is a health condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or other pelvic structures. It affects around 10% of women of reproductive age, and it can cause severe pain and infertility.
One of the most challenging aspects of endometriosis is its impact on fertility and it is estimated that up to 50% of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. However, with proper treatment, many women with endometriosis can conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ruchi Bhandari, Consultant Gynaecologist, Infertility Specialist and Cosmetic Gynaecologist at Mishka IVF Centre, linked endometriosis with infertility and said, “The precise mechanism by which endometriosis affects fertility is not fully understood. However, there are several potential factors that could contribute to difficulties in conceiving.” According to her, these include:
- First, endometriosis can cause the formation of adhesions or scar tissue. This can interfere with the proper functioning of the reproductive organs, making it more difficult for the egg to travel from the ovary to the uterus or for the sperm to reach the egg.
- Second, endometriosis can lead to inflammation, which can harm the quality of the eggs or interfere with implantation. It may also affect the hormonal balance in the body, disrupting the delicate dance of hormones that is necessary for ovulation and pregnancy.
- Finally, some women with endometriosis may have undiagnosed conditions that further complicate fertility, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or uterine fibroids.
Talking about the treatment options for women with endometriosis and fertility problems, the health expert revealed, “The good news is that there are several treatments available that can help women with endometriosis conceive. The best course of action will depend on the individual woman's symptoms, the severity of endometriosis, and other factors.”
She suggested the treatment options that patients can choose depending on the severity and other factors -
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove endometrial tissue or adhesions. This can help improve fertility by reducing the physical barriers to conception. However, surgery is not always effective, and it can also carry risks such as infection, bleeding, or damage to the reproductive organs.
- Hormonal Therapy: Hormonal therapy, such as birth control pills, can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the severity of endometriosis symptoms. It can also help improve fertility by promoting ovulation. However, it may not be effective for all women with endometriosis, and it can cause side effects such as weight gain, mood changes, or decreased libido.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): For women with severe endometriosis or other fertility problems, IVF may be the best option. This involves harvesting eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) to the uterus. IVF can be expensive, and it may not be successful in every case, but it has helped many women with endometriosis become pregnant.
- Lifestyle Changes: There are also several lifestyle changes that can help improve fertility for women with endometriosis. These include maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough exercise, reducing stress, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Dr Ruchi Bhandari concluded, “Endometriosis is a complex condition that can cause significant pain and distress for women. However, it is important to remember that many women with endometriosis are able to conceive and carry healthy pregnancies to term with the help of proper treatment. If you are struggling with infertility and suspect you may have endometriosis, talk to your doctor about your options. With the right care, you can increase your chances of starting or growing your family.”