Endometriosis is a sometimes painful condition associated with infertility that affects about 11% of women — usually those in their 30s and 40s. Fortunately, there are many treatments to help you manage the symptoms of endometriosis and also to help you conceive if you’re struggling to get pregnant.
Researchers aren’t sure what causes endometriosis, but they suspect that it’s connected to menstrual problems, genetic factors, hormonal issues, or immune system problems. You can’t prevent endometriosis or cure it, but you can manage it, even when you’re pregnant.
Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally grows inside your uterus grows where it’s not supposed to — outside your uterus. With endometriosis, this tissue, called the endometrium, may grow on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the outer surface of your uterus. It can also grow on your vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum.
When your menstruation starts, this tissue expands, as it would inside your uterus, and eventually bleeds off. But unlike the tissue that exits your body during your period, this blood gets trapped inside your pelvic area and can cause problems and pain.
While endometriosis can make it difficult to get pregnant, there are many treatments to help you get pregnant. Endometriosis does not go away during pregnancy. But your symptoms may take a break during your pregnancy since you’re no longer menstruating, which is often the instigator for endometriosis symptoms.
Some researchers believe that the boost in progesterone that occurs during pregnancy can help suppress and maybe shrink endometriosis tissue. On the flip side, some women experience worse symptoms because of an increased production of estrogen, which can increase endometrial growth.
Women with endometriosis are also at a higher risk for certain pregnancy complications such as:
But the majority of women with endometriosis go on to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Some treatments for endometriosis — such as birth control hormonal therapy and surgery — are out of the question when you’re pregnant. Treatment options include:
For more information on endometriosis during pregnancy, call us at the Center for Women’s Health in Wichita, Kansas, or make an appointment online through this website.