How Endometriosis Affects Pregnancy
Endometriosis is a disease that can cause pain, bleeding and internal cysts and adhesions, and, if untreated, can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. According to Los Angeles OB/GYN Dr. David Ghozland, endometriosis and resulting infertility are issues he treats in his southern California practice.
“Without treatment, endometriosis can definitely decrease the odds of a woman becoming pregnant,” he says. “Thankfully, there are many new options available to treat this disease before it causes permanent damage to the uterus, fallopian tubes and surrounding organs.”
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue normally found inside the uterus grows on the outside of the uterus, on or under the ovaries, on the fallopian tubes, behind the uterus, and sometimes on the bowels or bladder. When it comes to the impact this disease has on fertility, there are several factors to consider. In early stages, studies show women diagnosed with endometriosis may exhibit biochemical substances that produce anti-fertility effects in their peritoneal fluid. In advanced cases, the tissue growth and resulting scar tissue and adhesions can prevent pregnancy.
According to the Endometriosis Institute, without treatment:
- Women with Stage I or II endometriosis have an approximately 2% chance for conceiving in any given menstrual cycle.
- Women with Stage III or IV disease have less than 1% chance for conceiving.
- Age-dependent cycle fertility rates for healthy women range between 15 and 25%, by comparison.
Treating endometriosis may increase the odds of pregnancy, and Dr. Ghozland typically suggests laparoscopic procedures to remove the growths. Many of his Los Angeles patients choose this minimally invasive method because it requires very little down time and carries less risk than traditional surgery.
While endometriosis does impact a woman’s fertility rates, statistics show that endometriosis and infertility do not always go hand-in-hand. Some women successfully get pregnant and have healthy, full term babies, despite struggling with endometriosis. Still, for women of child-bearing age who suspect endometriosis may be causing symptoms of painful menstrual cycles, pain during or after sex, pain in the intestine or lower abdomen, heavy menstrual periods and other undiagnosed concerns, it’s wise to see an OB/GYN who can make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.