Carolinas HealthCare System
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Endometriosis and Infertility: What You Need to Know

While beginning a family is an exciting time, the journey to conception may be more difficult than expected, especially with endometriosis. Having endometriosis does not guarantee that you will have trouble conceiving; however, between 30 and 50 percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility.

Impacts on Fertility

There are several ways that endometriosis can wreak havoc on your reproductive system and hinder your changes of conceiving. Endometriosis can lead to:

  • Scarring of the fallopian tubes
  • Inflammation or distortion of pelvic structures
  • Altered immune system functioning
  • Altered egg quality
  • Changes in hormonal environment of eggs
  • Impaired implantation of pregnancy
  • Increased risk of miscarriage

When Do You Need Help?

Your doctor may recommend you and your partner try to conceive naturally for six months to a year before trying fertility treatments. If referred to a fertility specialist, make sure he or she knows your endometriosis history to ensure the most appropriate treatment.

If you’ve already had surgery to treat endometriosis, your doctor may have evaluated your condition and assigned you a “Stage” between 1 and 4. This system correlates to your chances of pregnancy and depends on the amount, location and depth of your endometriosis.

This score determines whether your endometriosis is considered:

  • Minimal (Stage 1)
  • Mild (Stage 2)
  • Moderate (Stage 3)
  • Severe (Stage 4)

“Women with severe (Stage 4) endometriosis, which causes blocked fallopian tubes, damaged ovaries and extensive scarring, tend to have more difficulty becoming pregnant and often require innovative fertility treatment,” said Paul Marshburn, MD, of Carolinas HealthCare System Reproductive Medicine and Infertility.

Carolinas HealthCare System Reproductive Medicine and Infertility offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment of fertility issues including fertility-enhancing reproductive surgery such as advanced laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis.

Treatments to Improve Your Chances

While treatment plans are highly individualized for each patient’s specific condition, there are several common techniques used to treat endometriosis-related infertility. Your specialist may recommend:

  • Flushing out blocked fallopian tubes
  • Surgical treatment – removes scar tissue and helps restore reproductive organ functionality
  • A blood test - accesses egg-producing capabilities of ovaries
  • In vitro fertilization - aids conception by assisting with fertilizing your eggs and then implanting them in your uterus

While trying to conceive with endometriosis may be more challenging than you anticipated, taking steps to understand your health, talking to your doctor and exploring treatment options can make your dreams of parenthood a reality.

If you think you may have endometriosis, your OB/GYN physician can help diagnose and co-manage your condition with our endometriosis specialists and reproductive medicine experts. There are a variety of treatment options including medical management, therapy, surgery and fertility treatment. If you do not have an OB/GYN physician and would like help finding one, call 704-355-7500.