Many women wonder if endometriosis and pregnancy can go together, and that's a legit concern.
In case you don't know it, endometriosis is a chronic condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus, called endometrium, grows outside the uterine cavity, reaching the pelvic and abdominal areas and, as a result, organs such as bowels, bladder, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. This generally causes a wide range of symptoms that go from abdominal pain and fatigue to menstrual cramps and heavy periods.
If you ask yourself to what extent endometriosis and fertility are a possible and a healthy combination, have a look at the following article.
Endometriosis and pregnancy: How common is it?
Endometriosis affects 2 to 10% of all fertile women, whereas such numbers go up to 50% when it comes to infertile women, so there is a clear relation between endometriosis and pregnancy. However, you should keep in mind that there are a lot of cases in which this condition goes undetected, since women are often diagnosed with it when they find difficulties to get pregnant or suffer from chronic pelvic pain. Taking that into consideration, endometriosis is thought to affect an estimated 176 million women around the world.
How did I get it?
The clear answer to that question is yet to be found. Nevertheless, endometriosis is linked to genetic factors, and also to retrograde menstruation, which happens when menstrual blood that contains endometrial cells flow backwards into the pelvic cavity, instead of getting expelled from the body. Other studies aim at an immune condition that keeps your body from destroying the endometrial tissue that grows outside the womb.
Will endometriosis make me less fertile?
Endometriosis and pregnancy are compatible, though there's scientific evidence that the women who have this condition have lower success rates of giving birth than those who don't suffer from it. For example, endometriosis in pregnancy has been related to preterm birth, along with complications such as antenatal and postpartum haemorrhage. The reason why such a condition may affect your reproductive ability may be associated with the increase in the pelvic inflammation and structural and functional changes in the uterine lining.
Despite this, you have to know that the majority of women with endometriosis are able to go through normal pregnancies and have healthy babies.
What should I do if I have endometriosis and I want to have a baby?
If you have endometriosis and you want to have a child, you should start trying to get pregnant sooner rather than later. Remember that the younger you are, the greater your chances of becoming a mum will be. Getting pregnant while you are in your twenties isn't the same as looking for a child during your thirties or forties and, given the fact that your odds of doing so are already reduced, due to endometriosis, you should 'get to work' as soon as possible. Age matters, but so does your overall health, so make sure to keep a balanced diet, focusing on fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and do regular physical activity to maintain your weight under control.
If you've bee trying to conceive for six months or more with a negative outcome, you should make an appointment with an infertility specialist.
Can I have access to IVF?
Absolutely! If you are struggling with endometriosis and pregnancy, you can definitely undergo assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). However, it's also true that success rates of IVF treatment in those women who have endometriosis aren't as promising as in women who have to deal with such a disorder.
There's a preliminary research about intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) having very positive results in women with endometriosis. In such a procedure, a single sperm is injected into the egg and, afterwards, the resulting embryo is directly implanted in the womb. Studies show that, with this treatment, women with endometriosis may have similar chances to conceive as those without it.
Can I have endometriosis during pregnancy?
As noted above, endometriosis in pregnancy doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. Though there are women who, sadly, end up having implantation failure or problems affecting the placental development, endometriosis isn't a synonym of miscarriage or pregnancy complications. That's why you probably won't be treated specifically for it, rather than being extra monitored.
Will it affect my baby?
Again, though endometriosis sounds a bit scary, most of the women with it are able to go through normal pregnancies and have healthy babies, just as other future mummies.
After all, you shouldn't despair for dealing with endometriosis and pregnancy. You do have possibilities of conceiving and bringing a healthy baby into the world. It's just that it may take more effort and patience for you to achieve this goal. At the same time, you might as well prepare yourself to accept infertility, as it's another prospect when suffering from endometriosis. For now, let's stay positive and keep our fingers crossed!