How Is Endometriosis and Pregnancy Related?

Women who have endometriosis are often concerned about if their condition will affect their ability to get pregnant. While endometriosis doesn't always cause infertility, it may cause certain fertility problems in some cases. And about one third of women who have endometriosis find it difficult to conceive. Even when some women become pregnant, they still worry about how their endometriosis will affect their baby. Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between endometriosis and pregnancy.

What Is Endometriosis?

The endometrium is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis occurs when that tissue grows outside of your uterus. The disorder usually involves your bowel, ovaries and the tissue lining of your pelvis. In very rare cases, the tissue may even spread beyond the pelvic region. Even when the tissue overgrows and displaces, it still works like normal endometrial tissue, which means it will thicken, break down and bleed with your menstrual cycle.

However, the tissue becomes trapped because there is no way for it to go out of your body. It may lead to the formation of cysts called endometriomas, when your ovaries are involved. This may irritate surrounding tissue, leading to scar tissue or adhesions. It will cause serious pain, especially during your period. This may also lead to the development of several fertility problems.

Early diagnosis increases your chance of curing the condition. Therefore, you need to talk to your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms of endometriosis such as:

  • Painful menstruation
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during ovulation

You may experience some relief from these symptoms during pregnancy due to an increase in progesterone that induces a bit of remission.

How Could Endometriosis Affect Your Chances of Pregnancy?

Many women are often confused about the relationship between endometriosis and pregnancy. Endometriosis is the underlying cause in about 25%-35% of fertility problems in woman. If you're suffering from endometriosis, there's a 5% chance that you may have trouble getting pregnant.

There are many different reasons why endometriosis and pregnancy are linked together. For instance:

  • Endometriosis may block your fallopian tubes that are almost microscopic in size. Any blockage in your fallopian tubes will make fertilization difficult and lead to infertility.
  • Developing thickened adhesions will keep sperm from swimming upwards along the fallopian tube that will make it difficult to become pregnant.
  • Adhesions may affect and change the normal position of the ovaries and the tubes in the pelvis, causing issues related to fertility.
  • The egg may find it difficult to find its way into the tubes when the disorder coats the ovary.
  • Cysts formed on the ovary due to bleeding of the displaced endometrial tissue will make ovulation difficult.
  • Endometriosis and pregnancy are related because the disorder leads to pelvic inflammation that triggers the release of chemicals that are antagonistic towards sperm. This will make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
  • Endometriosis may contribute towards irregular ovulation, which, in turn, will reduce your chances of conceiving.
  • The quality of the egg may also suffer due to endometriosis, so they are less likely to become fertilized and develop normally.

How to Increase Chances of Pregnancy with Endometriosis

Now that you understand the connection between endometriosis and pregnancy, it is important to learn a few tips that will help improve your chances of becoming pregnant even when you have this disorder.

1. Try to Conceive Naturally

Though, with endometriosis, pregnancy seems hard but the condition itself doesn't always lead to infertility. Becoming pregnant early in your life may increase your chance of conception even when you have endometriosis. It is also a good idea to have sexual intercourse every other day around the time of ovulation. Stick to this routine and you may become pregnant within a year.

2. Get Pregnant with Medical Help

If you cannot get pregnant naturally after 12 months, you may consider asking for medical help. There are two options available in this regard.

  • Conservative surgery: You may undergo a conservative surgery that involves removing as much endometriosis as possible. This helps clear the uterus and ovaries to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. Surgery will also help if you've been experiencing severe pain due to endometriosis. Your doctor may perform the procedure through traditional abdominal surgery or do it laparoscopically.
  • Accepted fertilization: Also known as assisted reproductive technologies, accepted fertilization, such as in vitro fertilization, may prove more effective than conservative surgery. Many doctors usually opt for this method when conservative surgery proves ineffective.

Here's a video to help you understand how in vitro fertilization can make it easier for woman to get pregnant: 

Other FAQs About Endometriosis and Pregnancy

What is the relationship between endometriosis and pregnancy? It's definitely a common question, but there are many other frequently asked questions about becoming pregnant with endometriosis.

Can Drug Treatment Improve Fertility?

No, it doesn't improve fertility during or after treatment. It may only help reduce the pain associated with endometriosis. Some doctors will also use drug treatment as a preparation for surgery. This treatment is based on hormones or anti-hormones, which can shrink the endometriotic tissues. These drugs have certain contraceptive effect which is not that effective, so other contraception methods are suggested to prevent pregnancy because this treatment can be harmful to a fetus.

Will Endometriosis Affect My Pregnancy?

It is true that endometriosis may cause several fertility problems and even cause delay in getting pregnant, but it won't hurt you once you're pregnant. Everything will work as normal pregnancy. Some women may report that they experienced more pain in the first few months of pregnancy. Generally, this pain improves with time but returns after you've delivered your baby.

Will Endometriosis Have an Effect on Delivery?

Many studies show that you should continue to receive medical care after you become pregnant with endometriosis. Even if you've managed to conceive, endometriosis is still a risk factor for hypertension, premature delivery and bleeding after the 24th week of your pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may also suggest delivery by caesarean section. 

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