One common condition that can affect your chances of getting pregnant is endometriosis.
Endometriosis is a condition in which tiny patches of the same tissue as the lining your uterus develop in other areas of the pelvis, including the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Having endometriosis can reduce your odds of getting pregnant.
During your menstrual cycle, these patches, just like the uterine lining, thicken, and also discharge blood during menstruation. Ovarian endometriosis takes the form of blood-filled pockets on the ovaries sometimes referred to as "chocolate cysts".
While the exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, possible causes of endometriosis include:
- Starting Menstruation at a Young Age: Other risk factors include a short menstrual cycle (less than 27 days) and having long periods (lasting more than a week)
- Retrograde Menstruation: this causes some of the menstrual fluid to flow backwards into the fallopian tubes instead of exiting the body through the vagina
- Immune System Irregularities: Only 3 to 10% of women with retrograde menstruation actually develop endometriosis, leading some scientists to believe that an abnormality in some women's immune systems don't prevent the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus, leading to endometriosis
- Exposure to Toxins: exposure to environmental toxins like dioxins is believed to increase the risk of endometriosis
- Genetics: women who have relatives with endometriosis are also at greater risk for developing the condition
Common symptoms of endometriosis include extremely painful periods, as well as pain during intercourse and constant aching pain in the pelvic region, lower back, abdomen and buttocks. Endometriosis affects fertility because it can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes. The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown, although it has been linked to hormone levels.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A laparoscopy is the only form of fertility testing that can definitively diagnose this condition, and it is also allows for the most effective way to treat endometriosis. During a laparoscopy, your specialist will identify and remove as many endometriotic spots as possible. While this does not prevent new spots from developing, it can improve your chances of getting pregnant. Studies have found that in cases of mild to moderate endometriosis, removing endometriotic spots improved the chances of conceiving for women under 40 years of age by up to 75% in the first 36 weeks after treatment
Women with more severe forms of endometriosis can be diagnosed and treated using a more thorough operation called a laparotomy in order to improve their chances of getting pregnant
In cases of ovarian endometriosis, cysts are opened during surgery with a laser in order to allow blood to drain out.
Visit our forum and get the support you need from other women suffering from endometriosis.