Is Endometriosis Impacting Your Fertility?
Dealing with mood swings, bloating, and mild cramps is par for the course for most women when Aunt Flo comes to town. While some discomfort is normal during menstruation, for 1 in 10 women that time of the month can be particularly painful due to endometriosis. But the impact of endometriosis is much more than just having to deal with bad cramps – for many, the pain of endometriosis can even impact their ability to go about their daily lives.
So what is endometriosis? And does it impact fertility? The fertility experts of REACH are here to dispel some of the misconceptions around endometriosis and discuss how the disease may impact fertility.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis occurs when endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, is found in places it shouldn’t be – like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other intestines. While endometrial cells are most commonly found in the abdomen and pelvic cavity, endometrial cells can wander as far as the arms, thighs, lungs, and other areas.
Spotting the Symptoms of Endometriosis
While many women with endometriosis experience intense pain during their period, others can be completely asymptomatic. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Seriously Painful Periods: Many women suffering from endometriosis experience severe and at times incapacitating menstrual pain.
- Gastrointestinal Distress: Cramping, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain and constipation, especially around your period, can mean that endometrial cells have migrated to the GI tract.
- Frequent Urination: Find yourself going to the bathroom more frequently around your period? The frequent need to urinate during your period can indicate endometrial lesions on the bladder.
- Increased Bleeding: Intense pain during menstruation and very heavy periods, sometimes with clots, can be a result of the endometrial growths reacting to the hormones your ovaries produce during menses.
- Breathing Discomfort: If you’ve found that you’ve started having trouble breathing, it’s possible that endometrial cells have migrated to your diaphragm. This can cause painful breathing and intense discomfort when trying to move the upper body or upper arms during menstruation.
Endometriosis and Your Fertility
While a woman typically has a 20% chance of conceiving each month, endometriosis may make that chance drop as low as 10%. As the endometrial cells migrate outside the uterus, they can begin to grow on a woman’s fallopian tubes, causing lesions. These endometrial lesions and scarring can make it difficult for a man’s sperm to connect with a woman’s egg. But even in cases where there is little or no scarring in the fallopian tubes, endometriosis can make conception challenging.
In some severe cases, the cysts that can form on the ovaries may cause damage to your eggs. For women who have been unable to find relief from intense pain due to endometriosis, a hysterectomy may be recommended, meaning these women would be unable to carry their own child.
What to do if you think you have endometriosis
Unless your endometriosis has formed a cyst called an endometrioma (which can be seen on a sonogram), the only way for your doctor to diagnose you with the disease would be through laparoscopy. This is a minor surgery in which a scope is inserted into your abdomen through a small incision to look for endometrial cells growing outside the uterus. During the procedure, your physician may also be able treat any endometriosis by removing the lesions.
For women concerned about the impact of endometriosis on their fertility, it is important to catch and treat it early on. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned each month during your period, we encourage you to contact the fertility experts of REACH at 888-551-0874 or request an appointment to be tested for endometriosis.