For many women, endometriosis is a sentence of infertility. Here’s why it need not be.
In 2015, one estimate put the number of women with endometriosis worldwide as ten million. Another placed it as five to ten per cent, between 175 to 350 million, of all women.
While there is a huge variance in the estimates, there is no question that it is a very common condition. And, that roughly half the women with endometriosis are also infertile.
Before we get to an understanding of how advanced fertility treatment can help some of these women, it’s worthwhile to get a few basic facts out of the way.
What is endometriosis and what are its symptoms?
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells similar to those in the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – grow outside of it, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissues around. The condition causes a variety of problems: from pelvic pain to infertility. Nearly half the women affected suffer from continuous pain and 70 per cent suffer from pain during menstruation, while others feel pain during intercourse. Oddly, 25 per cent of those affected feel no symptoms at all.
But the most severe effect of endometriosis is infertility.
Endometriosis and infertility
While figures vary, it is estimated that the incidence of infertility in women with endometriosis can reach 50 per cent. Though it is not entirely clear how endometriosis causes infertility, there are several hypotheses.
The extent of infertility is dependent on the stage of disease: in early stage disease, the inflammation caused by endometriosis can impair fertility and later the effects are more pronounced by changes in the woman’s anatomy.
But to people suffering from endometriosis associated infertility, the causes are not as important as the treatment. While some women, especially younger ones are helped by surgery, others may need fertility treatment to have a child.
ART and endometriosis
Depending on the circumstances, a doctor treating an infertile endometriosis patient will choose a suitable course of action. At Nova IVI Fertility, the process begins with a thorough investigation. The stage and severity, as well as the age of the patient is key. Based on this, treatment will begin.
We find that endometriosis is not a bar to parenthood – provided the patient is examined carefully and the treatment carried out correctly. To date, we have treated hundreds of women with endometriosis and our success rates for IVF for women with endometriosis is about the same as for those without.
Which is why, despite the pain and despite infertility, many women have become happy mothers.