Endometriosis Might Impact Your Fertility BUT Here's What You Can Do

For those struggling to conceive, there are options.
Worried teenage girl with braided hair sitting on sofa in her room, touching her belly, suffering menstruation pain.
izusek via Getty Images
Worried teenage girl with braided hair sitting on sofa in her room, touching her belly, suffering menstruation pain.

The long-term condition endometriosis affects people of any age, including teenagers. Those with endometriosis often have painful periods and its impact can even lead to depression.

According to the NHS, the symptoms are not limited to painful periods but, to an extent, can also impact fertility.

Embryologist and fertility coach at Bea Fertility, Sandy Christiansen, says that though endometriosis can be associated with fertility problems, un-aided conception is still possible, even for women with severe endometriosis.

Sandy explained the impact of endometriosis on egg quality: “Endometriosis can potentially affect egg quality, although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood.

“The potential impact of endometriosis on egg quality could be down to things like inflammation in the area, changes in ovarian function due to tissue damage, and hormonal imbalances which can impact the development and release of eggs from the ovaries.

“Endometriosis may be associated with a decreased ovarian reserve, meaning fewer eggs are available for ovulation. It’s important to note that while endometriosis can potentially impact egg quality, not all individuals with endometriosis will experience fertility issues or reduced egg quality.

However, fertility issues are usually associated with severe or advanced endometriosis which is more likely to lead to complications, compared to mild to moderate endometriosis.

“Although it won’t necessarily cause ‘infertility’. There are options for women with endometriosis who wish to conceive,” says Sandy.

Some studies show that women with endometriosis can be at a higher risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy, such as preterm birth, miscarriage or caesarean delivery. However, not all women with endometriosis will experience complications during pregnancy. Doctors will monitor pregnancy closely to keep both mother and baby safe.

How can I conceive?

For those who are struggling to conceive, Sandy says there are options which include undergoing surgery to remove patches of endometriosis tissue, or trying a fertility treatment such as IVF or ICI.

“Seeking an early diagnosis for endometriosis is important if you are experiencing symptoms and are trying to conceive, as it takes on average 7.5 years to get a diagnosis.

“It will enable you to explore your options with a health professional to give you the best chance of having a safe and healthy pregnancy,” said Sandy.

Sandy suggests if you have endometriosis or you suspect you might have it, then you should visit your GP, especially if you are trying for a baby.

NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines state that if there is a known predisposing factor for reproductive struggles, then doctors should make an earlier referral for specialist consultation.

She explained: “A specialist can talk you through options to optimise your fertility. In moderate to severe cases of endometriosis, the tissue may need to be surgically removed before a pregnancy is attempted. An alternative treatment option might be in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intracervical insemination (ICI).

“Some fertility drugs can cause endometriosis to flare so it’s important to get additional support from your treating specialist when going through any hormone stimulation for fertility treatment, should you need pain medication.”

Help and support:

  • Sands works to support anyone affected by the death of a baby.
  • Tommy’s fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and provide pregnancy health information to parents.
  • Saying Goodbye offers support for anyone who has suffered the loss of a baby during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.