In today’s time, more and more women are getting affected by endometriosis. It occurs when the uterus lining (known as the endometrium) grows outside the uterus, resulting in scar tissue and adhesion. This condition destroys the tissues and distorts the organs, causing dysfunction of reproductive organs which leads to infertility. It is a condition in which women experience severe cramping in the pelvic region, excessive blood flow during the cycle, and most importantly, it prevents women from conceiving. This is when IVF treatment may be administered to help the person to conceive. The article highlights the effects of endometriosis on fertility and how IVF can help to combat infertility in women with the condition.
How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?
Although not everyone who has endometriosis has a problem in conceiving, it can be a cause of infertility in some women. It depends mainly on the severity of the condition. However, it has been seen that the monthly fecundity rate (chances of conceiving) in women without the condition is 15% – 20% which is much higher than that of women who have endometriosis whose monthly fecundity rate is anywhere in between 2% – 10%.
The exact reason for infertility in women with endometriosis, however, is not certain. Anyone or more of the below-mentioned factors can be a cause for failure to conceive.
1. Blocked Fallopian Tubes
The deposits caused by endometriosis block the Fallopian tubes through which fertilised eggs travel to the uterus. This prevents fertilisation from taking place, and as such, it is not possible to conceive.
2. Chocolate Cysts
Endometriomas or the benign ovarian growths which are also known as chocolate cysts can destroy the eggs in the ovary and prevent ovulation. The chocolate cysts that contain old blood which have a thick, tar-like consistency may also develop along the Fallopian tube which obstructs a fertilised egg to travel to the uterus, thereby preventing conception.
3. Endometriotic Deposits in the Pelvis
It is not certain why, but even in less severe cases of endometriosis when the ovulation is normal, and there are no blockages due to endometrial deposits, infertility may occur. According to research, when the condition of endometriosis is present in the system, either the endometrial cells or the immune system give out bio-chemical substances like prostaglandins which prevent a person from conceiving.
4. Scarring of Tissues
Scarring tissues due to endometriosis can make organs including the reproductive organs stick to one another and distort them. This prevents the organs from functioning properly, and as such, it becomes difficult to conceive.
5. Causes Inflammation
Endometriosis may also cause inflammation in the organs, preventing the entire reproductive process from taking place. Inflammation has been observed to affect egg production and ovulation too. The quality and quantity of eggs (ovarian reserve) in endometriosis patients dips low. Moreover, it has been seen that the uterus of women suffering from endometriosis works differently. The implantation rate is much lower, and the chances of miscarriage are on the higher side.
Endometriosis and IVF Treatment
Endometriosis is usually treated by laparoscopy surgery or hormonal treatments; in severe cases, hysterectomy is carried out which includes the removal of the ovaries, cervix and uterus. As for increasing the chances of getting pregnant while suffering from endometriosis, IVF can be a good way of treating the condition. It has been observed that IVF treatment improves the chances of conception. In case of severe endometriosis, the IVF success rate is low. IVF treatment is considered to be the best option and is just as good as other IVF patients who do not suffer from the condition. However, some people believe IVF treatment on patients with endometriosis can cause the condition to aggravate. Due to the doses of oestrogen during the IVF procedure, endometriosis symptoms can flare up, causing grave health issues. This is because when a lot of hormones are injected into the body, it causes inflammation in the tissues. However, such severe cases are rare.
Another question that is most common among IVF patients with endometriosis is, does endometriosis affect implantation in IVF? Although IVF is considered to be the best option to treat infertility in women with endometriosis, the chances of implantation will be slightly less in women with the condition than women without it. However, it has been observed that there isn’t much of a difference in the implantation rates in women with endometriosis and women without it.
IVF treatment has been tried and tested by many women with endometriosis around the globe, and the results have been fantastic. However, the best way to overcome the condition would be to consult and take opinions of a good reproductive endocrinologist and be open to experimenting with different IVF alternative treatments. Most importantly, be patient and positive!