It is estimated that up to a third of women who struggle to become pregnant suffer from endometriosis, making it a leading cause of fertility issues in women. There are a few different treatment options available to reduce the pain that is often associated with endometriosis, but some of these further inhibit a woman’s ability to become pregnant.
At the Center for Assisted Reproduction, serving Fort Worth, TX, Bedford, TX, and surrounding areas, we recommend in vitro fertilization, or IVF, for endometriosis. IVF bypasses many of the issues that can compromise a woman’s fertility so that she has a chance at a healthy pregnancy.
What Is Endometriosis?
A woman’s uterus is lined with a layer of tissues that is called the endometrium. When a woman becomes pregnant, it is this lining that thickens to support the implantation of an embryo. In women with endometriosis, tissues that are similar to those of the endometrium grow outside of the uterus. Tissues may grow on the ovaries, in the fallopian tubes, or within the pelvis.
Endometriosis has many possible symptoms, including fatigue, excessive bleeding, and pain. Endometriosis pain is likely to be particularly severe while a woman is menstruating. Another notable symptom of endometriosis is infertility. Women with endometriosis are often unable to conceive without fertility treatment.
How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?
When endometrial-like tissues grow outside of the uterus, they still act like normal endometrial tissues would. The tissues thicken during the menstrual cycle and then break down and bleed when a woman is on her period. Unfortunately, since these tissues are not in the uterus, they cannot be shed with the menstrual cycle. Instead, they become trapped wherever they have grown, whether that be in the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries, or in the pelvis. Trapped tissues can turn into cysts, adhesions, or scar tissues.
Cysts, scar tissues, and inflammation can make it more difficult for patients with endometriosis to conceive. Cysts and scar tissue can create blockages that interfere with conception, while inflammation and tissue damage may create a hostile environment that is not as supportive of embryo implantation.
How Can IVF Help?
IVF is one of the most successful assisted reproductive techniques. This treatment can be beneficial to women experiencing a number of infertility issues, including endometriosis. IVF is a multi-step procedure that oversees and assists with many stages of conception for our patients:
- Ovarian stimulation: IVF involves the use of fertility medication to stimulate the ovaries and encourage the production of multiple mature eggs.
- Egg retrieval: Mature eggs are harvested directly from the ovaries during an egg retrieval process. This bypasses the fallopian tubes, where endometrial damage may be present.
- Fertilization: Harvested eggs are fertilized with washed sperm in our lab. Embryos are observed for three to five days and the healthiest embryo(s) is selected for transfer.
- Embryo transfer: Selected embryos are transferred directly to the uterus where they have the chance to implant to the uterine lining and result in a successful pregnancy.
There is no guarantee that IVF will be a success for endometriosis patients, but this process assists with many stages of conception, bypasses the fallopian tubes, and addresses many of the issues that may prevent a woman with endometriosis from conceiving.
If you have struggled to conceive for a year or more, you may benefit from the services offered at The Center for Assisted Reproduction. To learn more about the treatments we offer and how they can help you on your journey to become pregnant, send us a message at your earliest convenience or call (817) 924-1572.