Endometriosis affects women of all ages, races, and walks of life. Yet even though it can start as early as age 11, most cases of endometriosis remain undiagnosed until fertility issues arise.
Our experienced team at Advanced Women's Healthcare in Bloomington, Illinois, understands the impact endometriosis can have on your current or future plans for pregnancy. We can help you recognize the signs of this unique condition and how it might affect your ability to conceive.
The signs of endometriosis
Endometriosis involves the endometrial lining of your uterus. During your reproductive years, this is the tissue that thickens and breaks down each month during your menstrual cycle, leaving your body in the form of menstrual blood — or your period — if pregnancy doesn’t occur.
When you have endometriosis, your endometrial tissue starts growing outside of your uterus in other areas, such as your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and pelvic lining. Even though this endometrial tissue is no longer in your uterus, it still thickens, deteriorates, and bleeds during your monthly cycle. But, because this tissue doesn’t have anywhere to go, it can cause irritation in the area, which can cause scar tissue and adhesions. When you have adhesions, your pelvic tissue and organs can start sticking together.
Common signs of endometriosis include:
- Pelvic pain
- Painful periods
- Excessive bleeding during or between periods
- Pain during urination or bowel movements
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea
These symptoms can range from mild to intense. Unfortunately, the severity of your symptoms won’t indicate the extent of your condition. That means you can have severe pain with mild endometriosis and minimal pain with more extensive forms.
Because endometriosis has symptoms similar to other conditions, it’s sometimes mistaken for pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts, or irritable bowel syndrome. Many women don’t receive an endometriosis diagnosis until they start looking for infertility treatments.
Endometriosis and fertility
Between one-third and one-half of women living with endometriosis experience difficulty conceiving. Endometriosis can make becoming pregnant harder for several reasons, including:
- Making sexual intercourse too painful to engage in
- Causing ovarian cysts that interfere with ovulation
- Creating scar tissue that blocks your fallopian tubes
- Distorting or interfering with your reproductive organs so they can’t function properly
- Reducing your egg quality
- Interfering with embryo implantation
- Triggering inflammation throughout your body
In addition to fertility issues, endometriosis can also increase your risk of a miscarriage, especially if you have more mild forms of the condition.
Just because you have endometriosis, that doesn’t mean you can’t have children. But it can make it harder. We can help you manage your condition and increase your likelihood of getting pregnant. If you have a new endometriosis diagnosis, we can also develop a treatment strategy to preserve your fertility.
To learn more about endometriosis and how it can impact your fertility, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Women's Healthcare today.