Is infertility linked to endometriosis?
Based on the localization and the stage of their condition, women with endometriosis may be concerned about the risk of infertility. Doctors estimate about 5% of infertility cases are related to endometriosis, but the connection between them is not clear. Not all women with endometriosis are infertile, but 30% to 50% of infertile women are diagnosed with endometriosis.
The success rate of pregnancy correlates with the Stages of endometriosis.
Most cases of endometriosis are mild (Stages I and II), but certain chemical alterations in these Stages influence infertility. The immune system is producing cells that prevent the ovulation and the egg capture. The body creates an overall anti-fertility environment.
In cases of severe endometriosis (Stages III and IV), the risk of not getting pregnant is higher.
If the ovaries are damaged with endometrioma (cysts) and covered in thick adhesions, the eggs are stuck and can't be fertilized.
If the fallopian tubes are blocked by adhesions or scar tissue, the egg and the sperm can't meet or the fertilized egg is prevented from moving down the tube. In this case, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy increases.
Inflammation of the pelvis increases the number of cells that attack the sperm, shortening their life span.
There are also considerable pelvic scarring and distorted pelvic anatomy that can cause infertility. When the endometrium forms a cyst inside the ovary, it may become adherent to the uterus, bowel or pelvic side wall.
Sometimes the eggs in the ovaries can be damaged, both in quantity and quality. Changes in the hormonal environment can prevent the monthly release of the eggs from the ovaries.
Endometriosis can affect both the ability to get pregnant and the early development of the embryo in approximately 1/3 to ½ of women with this condition.
Knowing these, women can protect their health and fertility, by not postponing the age of conception and by prevention instead of treatment.