It’s estimated that approximately 30% to 50% of women struggling with infertility have endometriosis. In fact, many women first discover that they have the condition when seeking fertility care after unsuccessfully trying to conceive. Like many disorders, endometriosis affects bodies differently and can cause infertility in a variety of ways.
Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus, known as the endometrium, grows in places it shouldn’t, typically on other reproductive organs. Depending on the severity of the case, endometriosis can cause scarring, lesions
, and cysts that interfere with the structure and functioning of the affected organs. Doctors classify endometriosis into these four stages:
- Stage I (minimal): Few and surface-level endometrial implants, some lesions, no scar tissue
- Stage II (mild): More lesions, still no scar tissue, and deeper endometrial implants
- Stage III (moderate): Deep endometrial implants, and possibly endometrial cysts on at least one ovary
- Stage IV (severe): Many lesions, scar tissue, and possible large cysts in ovaries
Endometriosis rarely extends past the pelvic region, mainly affecting organs such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Depending on how endometriosis develops in your body, there can be various fertility issues that require different treatment options.
When endometriosis extends to the fallopian tubes, it can block the egg from traveling to the uterus and uniting with a sperm, thereby preventing conception. In other cases, when endometriosis affects the ovaries, cysts known as endometriomas can form. There is also evidence that endometriosis-related inflammation and cysts on the ovaries can cause hormonal changes that negatively impact egg quality. In this scenario, creating a viable embryo might not be possible, leading to failed attempts at conception or pregnancy loss.
Because endometriosis can cause both physical obstacles in your reproductive system and disruptions to the function of your reproductive organs, the condition can make your family-building journey difficult. However, with the correct treatment, many women with endometriosis are still able to have a child. If you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis and want to learn more about your treatment options in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Pacific Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group today.