Endometriosis is a condition affecting the female reproductive system. Endometriosis is commonly associated with infertility with 40% of women suffering from Endo experiencing some degree of infertility, and 30% suffer from infertility; however, not all women with Endometriosis are infertile.
For women with Endometriosis, the reproductive system including the ovaries and fallopian tubes are delicate and can be easily compromised.
Some Endo sufferers may have children without difficulty, some sufferers have children before they are diagnosed and some eventually become pregnant. For some women, it is often during investigations to see why they are not getting pregnant that the diagnosis of Endometriosis is made.
Endo can cause infertility in a number of different ways:
Damage to the tubes and the ovaries
This significantly reduces a woman’s ability to conceive by altering the movement of the egg and sperm. Even if the tubes and ovaries are not damaged, Endo can affect the movement of the sperm, by blocking it and preventing the sperm and the egg to meet.
Endometriosis causes irritation, inflammation and the formation of scar tissue. The scar tissue build up prevents the egg from getting out of the fallopian tube to be fertilised by the sperm.
Embryo Growth and Implantation
Endometriosis can impair implantation of the embryo. It is thought that embryo from a woman with Endometriosis develop more slowly compared to those derived from women without Endometriosis.
Quality of the Egg
A study has shown that embryos created from the eggs of a woman with Endometriosis during IVF had lower rates of fertilisation and development than embryos from women without Endometriosis
When ovaries are scarred with adhesions and/or covered with cysts, the ability to produce and release healthy eggs for fertilisation are greately reduced due to poor circulation, potential ovarian rupture, poor follicle development and an increased flow of toxins.
Damage to the Uterus Wall
If there is damage to the uterus wall, it makes it more difficult for an egg to be implanted, which in turn makes it more difficult for a woman to fall pregnant.
Changes to the Pelvic Environment
Endometriosis-related inflammation can create a hostile environment for the egg, sperm and embryo. The adhesions throughout the pelvis can distort the fallopian tube or ovaries and can compromise fertilisation and implantation.
Women with Endometriosis who have been trying to conceive for more than 6 months may benefit from seeing a specialist. A specialist may look into surgically excising the disease from all areas and reducing inflammatory agents that interfere with fertilisation and implantation. They may also benefit from fertility treatments (such as IVF) which can also help improve rates of fertilisation and implantation.