About half of women with infertility also suffer from endometriosis. Around five million women, especially American women, are affected by the condition, particularly those who are in their 30s and 40s. Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines a woman’s uterus grows outside of the uterus, on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissue outside the uterus, or other internal areas such as the bladder.
Symptoms of endometriosis can include pain during your period, in your lower back and pelvis, during or after sex, or in your intestines. You might also feel pain when relieving yourself during your period. Other symptoms can include: bleeding between periods and digestive issues.
The pain is caused by the tissue shedding and bleeding on a monthly basis. Just like the lining inside your uterus, as it contracts from those other internal locations and the shed tissue cannot easily get out of your body, this can cause pain. Endometriosis can, also, eventually cause blockages in fallopian tubes, swelling in the reproductive system, or scar tissue that make it hard to become pregnant.
Some women are more likely than others to suffer from endometriosis, including those who have never had children, those with periods lasting more than seven days, someone with a family member with the same condition, or a health problem that blocks the flow during a period. There’s no known cause of endometriosis, although it’s regularly researched, and it can’t be prevented. However, you can lessen the chance of it if you are at risk, such as talking to a doctor about hormonal birth control, getting regular exercise, and avoiding large amounts of alcohol and caffeine.
If you are not trying to get pregnant, hormonal birth control is generally the first option, and tends to work best for women without severe pain.
However, if you are trying to conceive, a doctor might prescribe a special medication to temporarily stop hormones and ovulation, as well as the growth of endometriosis. Once off the medication, known as a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), your body can begin to ovulate again, with a higher chance of getting pregnant. For severe symptoms, a surgeon can find and remove endometriosis patches.
Endometriosis affects many women, often without them realizing it. To make an appointment, give us a call at 717-747-3099.
Dr. Melanie Ochalski
P.S. For details of other roadblocks to fertility, check out our facts page.