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What is the Connection Between Endometriosis and Fertility?

Endometriosis and fertility are closely linked because women who suffer from endometriosis may not have adequate endometrial tissue to nurture and cushion an embryo; this results in a reduced ability to conceive. Also, some doctors usually recommend hysterectomies for women with severe endometriosis, and fertility is prevented as a result of the removal of the uterus. Lastly, cysts on the ovaries frequently occur as a result of endometriosis and can greatly affect ovulation since eggs are released from the ovaries.

The nutritive lining of the uterus that builds monthly in women of child-bearing age is known as the endometrium. This tissue lines the uterus and becomes a potential location for a fertilized egg to implant and grow into an embryo. If no egg is fertilized, the endometrial tissue breaks apart and is expelled from the uterus through the vaginal canal; this process is known as menstruation. In women with endometriosis, however, the uterine lining may not be completely shed; instead, it travels backward into the body, coating nearby organs, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder. If this tissue is never ejected from the body, it builds up, often causing bloating, cysts, and pain.

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A woman with endometriosis may not immediately notice she has the condition. Many women with the disorder still menstruate lightly. Others do not menstruate regularly. Bleeding between periods is possible with endometriosis. Sometimes sexual intercourse can hurt for sufferers of this disease.

Once endometriosis and fertility problems have been diagnosed through scans, ultrasound, and pelvic exams, the non-expelled endometrial tissue can be located and removed, increasing chances for conception. Surgeons can locate areas of tissue build-up by using a scope inserted through a small incision in the abdomen. Then, lasers and other sources of heat are used to burn and excise the excess tissue. This same surgery can be effective for removing cysts that have grown on the ovaries due to endometriosis.

In cases where endometrial tissue build-up is minimal, birth control pills containing the hormone progesterone can be used to halt the build-up of future tissue. The removal or reduction of tissue usually ends any pain associated with endometriosis, and fertility potential may be improved. Prescriptions for pain medication, however, are often routinely given to sufferers of endometriosis.

Medical experts have not definitively discovered what causes endometrial tissue to settle inside the pelvic area instead of exit the body. Some studies suggest the condition is related to immunity problems. Roughly two in every 10 women suffer from endometriosis and fertility problems that result from it.

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