The Real Effect Endometriosis Has on Fertility

by Megan Fu
Apr 23, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. ET
Pregnant woman
Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

Endometriosis is common — about 10 percent of women have it — and while it may be best known for causing incredibly painful periods, it also can have a huge impact on your ability to get pregnant. In fact, 30 to 50 percent of women with endometriosis can experience infertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and women with more severe endometriosis (stage 4) can have the most difficulty in becoming pregnant due to scarring, blocked fallopian tubes and damaged ovaries. But not all women with endometriosis are infertile and many have children without difficulty, so what's the real effect of endometriosis on fertility? Ahead are five things to consider.

1 /5: Inflammation & Irritation

Sperm in uterus
Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

1/5 :Inflammation & Irritation

Inflammation as a result of endometriosis not only causes pain in many women. It can also damage the sperm or egg and interfere with their movement through the fallopian tubes and uterus, making pregnancy more difficult, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. So, keeping inflammation under control is huge when it comes to managing endometriosis in general, and research shows an anti-inflammatory diet can help.

2 /5: Adhesions

Sperm in fallopian tubes
Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

2/5 :Adhesions

In severe cases of endometriosis, the fallopian tubes may be blocked by adhesions or scar tissue, inhibiting the movement of the egg down the fallopian tube, according to ACOG. When endometriosis starts to cause pelvic adhesions, the pelvic organs can become stuck to one another, which can decrease function and inhibit conception, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

3 /5: Quality of Eggs

Eggs in fallopian tubes
Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

3/5 :Quality of Eggs

In some cases, the eggs in the ovaries can be damaged, according to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health. Damaged eggs can result in a diminished ovarian reserve (decreased egg quantity and quality). Ovarian surgery for endometriosis can also result in a diminished ovarian reserve, making it more difficult to conceive.

4 /5: Fewer Eggs May Be Released Each Month

Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

4/5 :Fewer Eggs May Be Released Each Month

Women with endometriosis can find themselves experiencing irregular ovulation and menstruation, according to the Center for Endometriosis Care. This can also make the chances of conceiving less likely. Birth control pills and other hormonal treatments, which are often used to control pain in endometriosis patients, can affect ovulation and the ability to conceive as well.

5 /5: Getting Pregnant May Still Be Possible

Pregnant women
Image: Jenny Yuen/SheKnows

5/5 :Getting Pregnant May Still Be Possible

All hope is never lost. If you have endometriosis, you may still successfully birth children. It really depends on the severity of your endometriosis, your age and your overall health. Be sure to visit your doctor and perhaps seek out a fertility specialist to discuss your options, which may include freezing your eggs, proper counseling and care or fertility treatments, including medications like clomiphene citrate (Clomid or Serophene), an intrauterine insemination or even in vitro fertilization.