Endometriosis is a benign gynecological disease that affects millions of women worldwide.
It occurs when endometrial tissue, the lining of the uterus, grows outside the uterus (womb) and connects to the organs of the pelvic or abdominal cavities (ovaries, fallopian tubes, or urinary bladder) where it is not supposed to grow.
Endometriosis is the major cause of female infertility. Its impact on a woman’s ability to become pregnant is very high.
It is found that, in the United States, about 10-20% of all childbearing age women have endometriosis.
The womb lining that grows outside the uterus develops into growths or lesions that react to the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone hormones (generated by ovaries during menstrual cycle) the same way as the endometrium responds inside the uterus.
With the rise of hormones, the endometrium (uterine lining) outside the uterus swells and thickens; and sheds and bleeds with the drop of hormone levels, thus indicating the onset of the next menstrual cycle.
Unlike the normal endometrial tissue that sheds and discharges as menstrual bleeding from the body, the blood that sheds out of the misplaced endometrial tissue in the abdominal cavity has no outlet to go out of the body.
Thus, it may form endometriomas (the cyst full of blood). Its blood in the region of abdominal cavity causes inflammation or swelling to the surrounding tissues of the endometriosis area.
The inflammation of the surrounding tissues leads to the formation of scar tissue in the region of endometriosis. The scar tissue then blocks the ovaries from developing and releasing eggs for fertilization or reduces the ability of the fallopian tubes in picking an egg from the area where it will be fertilized by the sperm and transport to the uterus for implantation.
Endometriosis can affect a woman’s ability of becoming pregnant in the following ways:
- With endometriosis, some woman may feel severe pain while having sexual activities. Therefore a desire to have sex is less often, which decreases the chances of becoming pregnant.
- The scar tissue of endometriosis forms adhesions, which can surround the ovaries and restrict the ability of the surrounding area to hold the egg that the ovary releases.
- The fluid that remains in women with endometriosis contains an increased number of scavenging cells that can wipe out “alien” cells, thus targets the sperm cells and makes fertilization impossible.
Preventing endometriosis effect on woman’s fertility:
There are several ways to avoid the effects of endometriosis on a woman’s fertility, but it is possible only after a proper diagnosis and treatment. Laparoscopy is the most popular surgical procedure to remove the endometrial growths in the body.
With proper endometriosis treatment, a woman can increase her chances of becoming pregnant within a year or two years after the treatment.
On the other hand, natural therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy and acupressure have successfully treated women with endometriosis and trying to become pregnant.
Following a healthy diet and good exercise routine to boost the immune system and to maintain the body fitness can also improve the changes of getting pregnant after having proper treatment.