Can You Get Pregnant When You Have Endometriosis?
Many women worry that endometriosis will affect their chances of getting pregnant.
While it doesn’t mean you will struggle with conceiving, there’s a chance it may cause complications (some of which may be overcome with surgery).
What does endometriosis mean for you and your fertility? What options are available to you if you struggle to conceive naturally?
Below, we answer five pertinent questions you may have regarding endometriosis and fertility, including fertility treatment options like traditional IVF and using donated eggs.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an incredibly common problem, with an estimated 11 percent of women in the United States (equivalent to 6.5 million) thought to be suffering from the condition. Unfortunately, many women are unaware they have endometriosis or receive an incorrect diagnosis when they visit their doctor.
However, the first signs that you may have endometriosis include:
- Very heavy periods
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during or after sex
- Period pain that puts a stop to daily activities
- Pain when urinating or defecating on your period
- Blood in your urine
- Diarrhea during your period
Difficulty conceiving is also one of the first tell-tale signs for many women.
Fortunately, most women overcome endometriosis – sometimes with a little help — to become the moms they’ve always dreamed of being.
How Does Endometriosis Affect Your Fertility?
If your endometriosis increases in severity, you may begin developing large, painful ovarian cysts or scar tissue. Both (separately or a combination of the two) can decrease your chances of conceiving, as they may prevent eggs (oocytes) from traveling down your fallopian tubes.
Some women experience mild to moderate symptoms of endometriosis, yet still struggle with their fertility – unfortunately, the exact reason remains unknown. This is known as unexplained infertility.
How Can Endometriosis Be Treated?
Often, drug treatments aren’t successful for endometriosis sufferers – but surgery to help remove cysts or scar tissue may be beneficial. The treatment route offered by your doctor will depend upon several factors, including your age, symptoms, and how soon you want to get pregnant.
Sometimes, endometriosis improves on its own. All you may need are over-the-counter painkillers and birth control pills to help manage your symptoms.
In other cases, it can become much worse. Regardless of your personal situation, your doctor will want to monitor your symptoms in case the condition escalates.
What Fertility Options Are Available to Women with Endometriosis?
If you discover that your endometriosis is causing your infertility and surgery isn’t an option, you may want to explore other avenues. While these may not be the original path you had in mind, they’re great alternatives that may help you achieve your dream family.
Traditional IVF may be an option for you to consider, but this treatment tends to come with a lower chance of conception, especially as you age. For slightly older women or those who have experienced unsuccessful traditional IVF, donor eggs may be recommended. This helps remove any potential complications with your eggs while still enabling you to enjoy pregnancy.
Other options include surrogacy and adoption.
Will Endometriosis Affect My Pregnancy?
Whether you conceive naturally, through IVF, or use donor egg, you may worry if endometriosis will affect your pregnancy. However, most endometriosis sufferers enjoy happy and healthy pregnancies.
Some do note more pain than others at the start of pregnancy, but this should ease. It’s also important to note that pain from endometriosis can return after you’ve given birth as well.
Overcoming an Endometriosis Diagnosis
Finding out you have endometriosis is hard enough, but finding out it may alter your plans for a family can be even harder.
However, an early diagnosis, a careful treatment plan, and ongoing monitoring from your doctor should help you move toward the future you’ve been dreaming of, whether that’s pain-free periods, the perfect family, or both!