What is the connection between endometriosis and infertility?

Some women with endometriosis may experience difficulty getting pregnant, depending on the severity or extent of their disease. Reasons for why this occurs include distorted pelvic anatomy, scarring of the Fallopian tubes, inflammation of the pelvic structure, altered immune system function and changes in the hormonal environment of the eggs. Doctors have several options for treating infertility in women with endometriosis, including medication, surgery to remove lesions, intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization. Treatment may depend on factors such as age, other fertility issues and the severity of your endometriosis. If you have endometriosis and are having trouble getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your options.

The relationship between endometriosis and infertility is not completely understood. The primary cause of infertility resulting from endometriosis appears to be a blockage caused by scarring and adhesions in the tubes. These adhesions can prevent the egg and sperm from meeting or prevent the fertilized egg from moving down the tube normally (resulting in an ectopic pregnancy).

Some researchers feel that endometriosis can cause a luteal phase defect, which results from low levels of the hormone progesterone or a poor build-up of the uterine lining after ovulation. A luteal phase defect makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to implant. Some studies report as high as a 36 percent spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) rate in women with endometriosis versus 15 percent in the normal population. Other areas being studied are the effect of endometriosis on normal ovarian function and the role of prolactin in endometriosis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.