Endometriosis Causes Infertility in Women, but There Is a Way out of ItMar 01, 2022 10:00AM ● By Jessica Uchechi Nwanguma
Credit: Pexels, Klaus Nielsen.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects women, it occurs when tissue similar to endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus.
One out of every ten women suffers from endometriosis, and up to 30% to 50% of women with endometriosis may experience infertility.
This severe inflammatory disease is most common in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and pelvic tissue. It takes an average of 7-8 years before diagnosis occurs, usually due to the normalization of pain surrounding menstruation.
How Endometriosis Affects Black Women.
When compared to women of other races, Black women are less likely to suffer from Endometriosis, possibly due to
- Different lifestyle, Eg early pregnancy, increased risk for PID and blocked Fallopian tubes,
- Due to lack of laparoscopic facilities and specific training of African gynecologists to diagnose ascites caused by endometriosis.
For some women, the pains feel like contractions or 'tightenings' with intense pain, while for others, it feels like their entire stomach is on fire. Others may feel like something is ‘grating’ their uterus.
The symptoms of endometriosis include;
- Painful periods, which are known as dysmenorrhea.
Here, the patient suffers from pelvic pain and cramping days into a menstrual period. They may also suffer lower back and abdominal pain.
- Painful intercourse.
- Pain during bowel movements or urination.
- Heavy menstrual periods or bleeding in between periods (intermenstrual bleeding).
Sometimes, endometriosis is first diagnosed in those seeking infertility treatment.
Other signs and symptoms include fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.
How Endometriosis Causes Infertility
The endometrium is the innermost lining layer of the uterus and functions to prevent adhesions between the opposed walls of the myometrium, thereby maintaining the patency of the uterine cavity. Still, in the case of a woman with endometriosis, the endometrium grows outside your uterus.
This endometrial-like tissue thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle, but because this tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped, thereby causing inflammation.
If the endometrial tissue wraps around your ovaries, it can block your eggs from releasing, block sperm from making its way up to the fallopian tubes, and can also stop a fertilized egg from sliding down the tubes to your uterus, thereby causing infertility.
Causes of Endometriosis:
The causes of endometriosis are still unknown, but there are various theories as to what could be the potential cause.
Retrograde Menstruation -
In this case, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body, causing the endometrial cells to stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of each menstrual cycle.
This theory suggests that endometrial tissue may travel and implant via blood or lymphatic channels, similar to how cancer cells spread.
This theory suggests that cells in any location may transform into endometrial cells. Endometriosis can also occur due to direct transplantation in the abdominal wall after a cesarean section. Endometriosis can be inherited via the maternal and paternal sides.
Is It Possible to Get Pregnant with Endometriosis?
The answer is yes!
You can increase your chances of conceiving by:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins
- Engaging in moderate exercise daily (examples include walking, lifting weights, and participating in an aerobics class)
Or you can also get pregnant by:
Freezing your eggs -
Since Endometriosis can affect your ovarian reserve, some doctors may recommend preserving your eggs now in case you wish to become pregnant later. This option can be costly and isn’t usually covered by insurance.
Superovulation and intrauterine insemination (SO-IUI) -
This is an option for normal fallopian tubes, mild endometriosis, and those whose partners have sperm with no fertility issues.
Progestin injections and Clomiphene drug -
A doctor can prescribe these fertility medications. These medications help in the production of eggs and lessen or stop regular periods.
A patient trying to get pregnant may regularly undergo ultrasounds to ensure the eggs are at their most mature. When the eggs are ready, a doctor will insert a partner’s collected sperm.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) -
This treatment involves extracting an egg from you and sperm from your partner. The egg is then fertilized outside the body and implanted into the uterus.
Many people living with endometriosis conceive and ultimately deliver a healthy baby. The key is to start discussing your conception options, sometimes even before you think about getting pregnant.
When you’re trying to get pregnant, talk with your doctor if you haven’t conceived after six months of trying.
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John Hopkins Medicine
Jessica Uchechi Nwanguma is a Writer, Content and Social Media Strategist. She has a degree in Dental Technology and several certifications and has taken courses on Writing, SEO and digital and content marketing. Her book 'Beyond Agadez: the untold stories of the victims of human trafficking and organised crime.' is available on Amazon Kindle. She can be found online on Candour.substack.com.
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