Busting the top 5 myths about endometriosis and fertility
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to that which lines the uterus, grows outside of the uterus, often in the pelvic area.
It is a common disease that affects one in nine women of reproductive age. Unfortunately, research shows that it can be more difficult for women with endometriosis to conceive.
There are various misconceptions regarding endometriosis and infertility, and it is important to debunk some of these to allow a better understanding of this common condition.
The top 5 myths about endometriosis and fertility
1. Endometriosis is always painful – MYTH!
Endometriosis is commonly associated with symptoms of period or pelvic pain. However, some women with endometriosis will not experience any pain. Sometimes, women will have infertility as their only ‘symptom’ of endometriosis.
This is important to know as women with infertility are more likely to have endometriosis compared to women without fertility issues. It should always be considered as a potential cause of a woman’s fertility issues, even if there are no typical signs and symptoms of endometriosis.
Former Bachelorette Angie Kent was first diagnosed with endometriosis in 2015 after experiencing excruciating period pains.
2. Endometriosis only affects fertility if it’s blocking your fallopian tubes – MYTH!
Endometriosis is a very complex condition that can affect fertility in many ways. Whilst severe forms of endometriosis can cause scarring in the pelvis and affect the tubes and reproductive organs, this is not the only way that fertility can be affected. Endometriosis can cause pelvic inflammation, even when the endometriosis is classified as mild.
It can also impact the quality of the eggs in the ovaries and lower the rate of fertilisation. Women with endometriosis can also have ovarian cysts, called endometriomas, which can reduce a woman’s ovarian reserve or egg numbers.
The endometrial lining of the womb, which plays a vital role in implantation, is also thought to be different in people with endometriosis than in those without.
3. Women with endometriosis will always need IVF to conceive – MYTH!
Many women with endometriosis will conceive naturally, but some will have trouble conceiving and may need fertility treatment such as IVF.
Others may choose to have surgery to remove the endometriosis. Endometriosis can be treated with a surgical procedure called a ‘laparoscopy’, which is keyhole surgery using very small incisions on the abdomen to minimise pain and scarring.
The surgeon will then inspect the pelvic organs and see if there is endometriosis present, and if so, they will remove the endometriosis tissue. This surgery is often performed to help ease pain symptoms, particularly when other non-surgical treatments have been unsuccessful.
It is also unknown if surgically removing endometriosis improves the conception rates in women having IVF. There are currently large studies underway to answer these very important questions.
Melbourne IVF is proudly involved and actively recruiting participants for these essential projects that are focused on improving the fertility outcomes of women with endometriosis. If you are a Melbourne IVF patient and interested in being involved in this research, you can speak to your fertility specialist for more information.
Emma Watkins, who recently married Oliver Brian, has been open about her endometriosis diagnosis and does not know if she will be able to conceive.
4. Endometriosis does not affect IVF success rates – MYTH!
Unfortunately, women with endometriosis will have lower IVF success rates compared to women without endometriosis. That being said, it is important to remember that every fertility journey is unique, and depending on your circumstances and those of your partner, a fertility specialist can tailor your care to give you the best possible chance of conception.
5. There are no additional pregnancy risks – MYTH!
Endometriosis can increase the risks of pregnancy complications. These include higher risks of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and pre-term delivery. Babies can also have a lower-than-average birth rate. It is important that your obstetrician knows about your history of endometriosis so that they can monitor for complications in pregnancy.
The National Action Plan for Endometriosis came into effect in 2018, and this has seen more funding allocated to research and to improving the quality of life of women affected by endometriosis. This is an exciting step forward, but we still have a long way to go and need to work together to raise awareness and advocate for women affected by this common condition.
This article was originally published by Bounty Parents.