You may have heard of endometriosis, but aren’t sure what it is. Believe it or not, it’s a common medical condition that makes it harder for women to get pregnant. Anywhere from 30-50% of women with endometriosis may have problems with infertility.
But don’t be discouraged by these numbers. Many women with endometriosis do get pregnant and have healthy babies. The key is getting a proper diagnosis and treatment from an experienced gynecologist like Dr. Leonardo A. Longoria K. here at Longoria OBGYN in El Paso, Texas. He provides top-notch OB/GYN care to all of our patients, no matter what their needs are.
What is endometriosis?
This condition is common, affecting about 5 million American women. Here’s what you need to know.
The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. This specialized tissue sloughs off during your menstrual period each month, unless you get pregnant. Endometriosis occurs when some of this tissue is found in areas where it shouldn’t be, like in the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, intestines, or other places in the pelvis.
The extra tissue can also cause adhesions, block the fallopian tubes, or develop into cysts or scar tissue. Since this tissue is driven by hormones, it acts just like the endometrial tissue in your uterus. It tries to shed each month, but the blood has nowhere to go.
Symptoms of endometriosis
Symptoms vary from woman to woman. Some women may have symptoms, while others don’t. Each situation is different.
Symptoms of endometriosis may include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Heavy bleeding
Some women don’t even know they have endometriosis until they’re having trouble getting pregnant.
How endometriosis affects fertility
The scar tissue and adhesions from endometriosis can block the fallopian tubes or damage the ovaries. This means an egg wouldn’t be released when you ovulate each month. If an egg was released, it may not be able to travel to meet the sperm for fertilization. Hormonal shifts and inflammation could also cause a toxic environment for sperm, basically weakening or killing them.
If a woman with endometriosis gets pregnant, she could be at a higher risk of complications like preterm delivery or having a Cesarean section. It doesn’t mean it will happen, it just means there’s a chance.
Luckily, there are treatments for endometriosis. If you have pain or cramping, you may be prescribed medication. Birth control pills can also help control the sex hormone estrogen and its influence on the endometrial tissue. This will help reduce pain from the tissue in other areas of the body where it shouldn’t be.
For more severe cases of endometriosis, surgery can remove the adhesions and scar tissue. This helps the organs function normally and improves your chances of getting pregnant. If you still have trouble getting pregnant after trying medication and surgery, you may want to consider in vitro fertilization with a fertility specialist or think about adoption. There are other ways to have a family; it just may not be the way you initially planned.
If you have endometriosis, there’s still hope you can get pregnant and have a healthy baby. So, never give up. Advancements in medical science like improved medications and state-of-the-art surgical procedures can help.
If you think you have endometriosis, or if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than six months, schedule a consultation with Dr. Longoria. The sooner you get treatment for your condition, the better. Request an appointment online or call us at 915-201-1165 today.