Endometriosis and Infertility
Dr. Dan Lebovic is the lead editor on the topic of endometriosis on Medpedia, a health care wiki.
Endometriosis Special Interest Group
Dr. Lebovic is the Chair-Elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine's Endometriosis Special Interest Group.
Read more about the group and how it's working to improve understanding of the disease and patient care.
Women with endometriosis often experience infertility. Generations Fertility Care specialists provide a broad range of medical and surgical services and will work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your endometriosis when you want to conceive.
Endometriosis happens when tissue that normally lines the inside of a woman's uterus (endometrium) grows elsewhere in the body.
Each month a woman's ovaries produce hormones that stimulate the cells of the uterine lining (endometrium) to multiply and prepare for a fertilized egg. If these cells, called endometrial cells, implant and grow outside the uterus, endometriosis results.
Unlike the uterine lining cells that would normally come out as a period, those cells that are outside the uterus in the body stay in place and lead to the disease.
This ongoing process leads to symptoms of endometriosis and can cause scarring and adhesions of the tubes, ovaries, and surrounding structures in the pelvis. The exact cause of endometriosis is unknown.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
Growths of endometriosis are benign (non-cancerous), but still can cause many problems, including:
- Painful periods
- Pain in the lower abdomen or pelvic cramps that can be felt for a week or two before menstruation
- Pain in the lower abdomen felt during menstruation (the pain and cramps may be steady and dull or quite severe)
- Pain during or following sexual intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements
- Pelvic or low back pain that may occur at any time during the menstrual cycle
- Premenstrual spotting
- Problems getting pregnant (infertility)
Symptoms of endometriosis vary from woman to woman.
Some women with severe cases of endometriosis have no pain at all, while some women with mild endometriosis have severe pain. And yet other women may first find out that they have endometriosis when they are not able to get pregnant.
Risk Factors for Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a common problem. Although endometriosis is typically diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35, the condition often begins several years before a diagnosis is made.
Possible risk factors for endometriosis include:
- Mother or sister with endometriosis
- Starting menstruation at an early age
- Frequent menstrual cycles
- Periods lasting 7 or more days
Pelvic ultrasound is a common imaging test to detect endometriosis, although the only definitive means to diagnose this disease is by surgery.
Once the extent of the endometriosis is determined then the best course of treatment can be determined.
Treatment options for endometriosis include:
- Pain medication to relieve symptoms
- Hormone therapy to control the growth of endometriosis
- Surgery, including laparoscopy, to remove lesions or control the size of very large endometriosis and relieve pain