The Relationship Between Endometriosis and Infertility

Many women in their reproductive years suffer from a very common gynecological condition called endometriosis. The main cause remains a mystery. In this condition, the internal lining of the uterus, namely the endometrium, grows out of the uterus, on the ovaries, bowel, pelvic tissue linings and fallopian tubes.

The Relationship Between Endometriosis and Infertility

1. Mild Endometriosis

Mild endometriosis can cause infertility in a small group of women, and many women can still get pregnant with this condition. The relationship between infertility and mild endometriosis still needs further study. In fact, it is believed that delayed pregnancy can be a risk factor for this condition.

2. Severe Endometriosis

Severe endometriosis can cause scar issue to develop in the pelvis. The fallopian tubes can get damaged and blocked, while the ovaries can develop cysts which adhere to the wall of the pelvis, uterus, and bowels. These damages can cause women to become infertile due to obstruction of the fallopian tubes, and reduced quality and quantity of the eggs.

Treatments for Endometriosis and Chances of Fertility After Treatment

Now you know that endometriosis and infertility are closely related, so what can be done to treat endometriosis?

1. Pain Medications

Pain relievers may be prescribed by your doctor; you can also try over-the-counter medications such as diclofenac or ketoprofen. These medications can help relieve the menstrual cramps.

If medications are not enough for pain relief, try different approaches to better manage your symptoms.

2. Hormonal Therapy

This can sometimes be an effective treatment to help reduce not only the pain but the extent of the endometriosis. Hormone medication slows down the growth of the endometrial tissue, which prevents new implantation of these tissues.

Some common treatments include progestin therapy, danazol, and gonadotropin-releasing hormone (gn-rh) antagonists and agonist. However, it is important to know that this kind of therapy is not a permanent fix. A return of the disease can be experienced when the medication is stopped. 

3. Surgery

When the situation is too serious, doctors will commonly suggest abdominal and laparoscopic surgery to remove adhesions and clip away damaged areas and endometrial lesions.

Excision surgery is an advanced surgical technique used to remove the damaged roots.

Sometimes a full hysterectomy is needed if the endometriosis is too severe, and a complete removal of the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries is necessary.

4. Assisted Reproductive Technologies

In order to help you become pregnant, technologies such as assisted reproduction like in vitro fertilization will be used. This is a good option if the conservative surgery fails to work.

Chances of Pregnancy After Treatment

Now you know the relationship between endometriosis and infertility, you may wonder your chances of pregnancy with or without treatment.

Chances for Pregnancy – Without Treatment

Without treatment, the chances of pregnancy with this disease are significantly lower. There is approximate 1-2% chance of getting pregnant for women in stage I or II. For women with stage III or worse, the chances are less than 1% in contrast with healthy women whose fecundity rates vary from 16% to 26%.

Chances for Pregnancy – After Treatment

When a resection of endometriosis is done by laparoscopic means, the rates increase to about 3-6% for stage I and II and to 1-3% for stage III and IV. If the endometriosis is medically treated, the rate rises to about 4-6%, but the treatment has lower effect if the disease is in advanced stages. 

Chances for Pregnancy – with Fertility Drugs

For endometriosis that is untreated and on stage I-II, studies have shown an increase in fecundity rates up to 12% when fertility drugs and intrauterine insemination are used. 

Chances for Pregnancy – with IVF/ET

There is a very big increase in fertility rates to over 36% when a combination of drugs and in vitro fertilization/embryo transfer procedures is used. 

Natural Remedies to Improve Fertility with Endometriosis

Although endometriosis and infertility are related, some home remedies can help you cope with this situation.

1. Change Your Lifestyle

Lifestyle changes can help you get positive results when dealing with endometriosis. For example, you should exercise regularly to improve your fitness, which is a proven way to reduce the risk of endometriosis-induced infertility.

2. Improve Your Diet

This is the most important part of your natural treatment. Studies show that a diet high in red meat, fat or sugar, and low in vegetables, fruits and fiber will increase endometriosis risks.

So a healthy diet habit must be adopted. Try to increase the consumption of them: 

  • Fish oil: This ingredient is high in omega-3 fatty acids and will help by providing anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables will help prevent the deterioration of endometriosis.

It is important to avoid foods that have an elevated E2 and F2a prostaglandin levels; these are chemicals that cause pain, stimulate estrogen levels and lead to inflammation. This is a list of foods that you must avoid:

  • Dairy
  • Sugar
  • Wheat
  • Red meat
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Saturated fats and trans fats

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

It is imperative that you maintain a normal weight and a good body mass index (BMI) around 19 to 23. Being underweight or overweight can make endometriosis symptoms worse. Talk to your nutritionist or doctor so he/she can help by providing a healthy weight maintaining plan.

4. Alternative Remedies

There are some alternative medicine therapies that can help alleviate symptoms. Some of the options are:

  • Yoga: If practiced regularly, it will help alleviate stress and pain, and improve mental and physical health.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine: It is used by some women along with traditional western medical treatment. Some studies show that it will help regulate inflammation.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture uses pressure points to alleviate pain and inflammation in the body.