Can I still have a Baby with Endometriosis?
If you have been diagnosed with infertility associated with endometriosis, you probably have a lot of questions. What is it? What caused it? What are my treatment options? And more importantly, can I still have a baby?
The answer to the last question is—yes! Natural conception is still very possible with endometriosis-especially if it’s mild, but your chances of conceiving may drop considerably if you have a more severe form of it. Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis but it is treatable. However, treating infertility associated with endometriosis requires a highly specialized physician since treatment is often complex.
Endometriosis is a disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the uterus grow in other areas of the body, most commonly the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowel, and on the linings of the pelvic area. The condition usually effects women in their reproductive years and may cause painful periods, pain with intercourse and infertility. The cause of endometriosis remains unknown but there are theories that suggest it may be from retrograde menstruation, genetic predisposition or autoimmune activity. It is estimated that between 20-50% of women being treated for infertility have endometriosis.
What are your treatment options?
Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of your condition, your age and your general health. Options to increase your chances of becoming pregnant may include:
1. Laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue and lesions. This treatment allows some women to conceive naturally. There is some controversy as to whether surgery enhances natural fertility in cases of mild endometriosis. Surgery is a good option for patients that have significant pelvic pain due to endometriosis and those that have pelvic lesions, such as ovarian cysts, identifiable on ultrasound.
2. Intrauterine insemination or IUI is another option. IUI is usually performed in conjunction with the administration of fertility drugs like clomiphene citrate or FSH. Intra-uterine insemination (IUI), the process of injecting sperm directly into the uterus, has been shown to be effective for women with Stage I or Stage II endometriosis.
3. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the treatment of choice for patients with moderate to severe (Stage III or Stage IV) endometriosis. IVF completely bypasses the area affected by the endometriosis. Egg are removed from the body and fertilized in the laboratory creating embryos. The resulting embryos can then be placed in the uterine cavity directly. This bypasses both the pelvis and fallopian tubes. IVF is also the treatment of choice in patients with endometriosis whose husbands have abnormal semen analysis.
As you can see, there are many treatment options available to help you realize your dreams of creating or enlarging your family. Endometriosis is a progressive disease that gets worse with time. If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis, do not delay treatment. Seek out a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist that is experienced in dealing with endometriosis and who can offer the full range of treatment options.