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does endometriosis affect fertility

How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility and Pregnancy?

As we continue our series about endometriosis, today we address how endo might affect fertility and pregnancy.

Endometriosis Does Not Equal Infertility

Having endometriosis does not automatically mean that you will never have children. What it does mean is that you might have more trouble getting pregnant. About 30% of those with endometriosis have trouble with fertility and struggle to get pregnant. Others with endometriosis have no difficulty getting pregnant, or eventually get pregnant after utilizing medical interventions including surgery to remove endometrial growths, or reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization to help with conception.

Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?

An estimated 5-25% of women with infertility have endometriosis (Fadhlaoui, Bouquet de la Jolinière, & Feki, 2014). Although the exact ways in which the disease may affect fertility are not fully understood, they may include:

  • Causes pelvic pain that makes sex uncomfortable or painful
  • Inflammation of the uterus that impairs fertility
  • Problems with the quality of the egg cells
  • Environmental changes that negatively affect sperm and the ability of a fertilized egg to implant in the uterine wall
  • Pelvic adhesions and endometrial growths that prevent egg cell release and travel along the fallopian tube
  • Adhesions and growths that can physically block the movement of sperm

When to See Your Doctor

If you have endometriosis and are concerned about fertility, go see your doctor or get a referral to a doctor that specializes in fertility. Fertility specialists can help determine how healthy your egg supply is and help determine which procedures that might benefit you.

Endometriosis, Pregnancy & Delivery

Once pregnant, those with endo might worry about how the disease might impact their pregnancy and delivery.

Endometriosis is a risk factor for the following pregnancy complications:

  • Pre-term birth: the baby being born before 40 weeks
  • Bleeding after the 24th week of pregnancy and complications with the placenta
  • Pre-eclampsia, or high blood pressure
  • Delivery by caesarean section

So, it’s very important to receive ongoing maternal care throughout the pregnancy to help monitor these risks.

Does Pregnancy Cure Endometriosis?

Pregnancy does not cure endometriosis. In some cases, symptoms may improve during pregnancy due to higher levels of the progesterone hormone in the body can help suppress endometrial growth. These effects may only be temporary and many experience a return in symptoms after delivery.

How Does Pelvic Floor Therapy Fit in?

Pelvic floor therapy will not cure endometriosis or reverse endometrial growths. What we can do is help alleviate pelvic pain, making sex and medical visits easier. Whether you plan on conceiving naturally through sexual intercourse, or with the help of reproductive procedures like intra-uterine-insemination (IUI) or in-vitro-fertilization (IVF), your pelvic floor should be able to accommodate and not cause you more undue pain. Pelvic floor therapy can also help reduce pain during pregnancy and help the body prepare for labor and delivery.

For More Information

Endometriosis Foundation of America: https://www.endofound.org/infertility
Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354656

Click here for more great articles on endometriosis.

 

Resources

Sanders, W.B., (1999). WHO Scientific Group Report. Philadelphia, PA: WB Sanders; (1999). 249 p.

Fadhlaoui, A., Bouquet de la Jolinière, J., & Feki, A. (2014). Endometriosis and Infertility: How and When to Treat? Frontiers in Surgery, 1, 24. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsurg.2014.00024

Stephansson O, Kieler H, Granath F, Falconer H., (2009). Endometriosis assisted reproduction technology, and risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Human Reproduction. 24(9): 2341-7.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by A.W., age 32

I wanted to let you know that my pelvic floor held strong and gave me no trouble whatsoever in my trail race this morning (12 miles)! In a way, I felt like I ran better than ever because my core feels so rock solid from all the exercises you have me doing. That was especially valuable on the technical downhill - I just flew down the trail because I had confidence in my balance and form. Thank you for helping me get back to doing what I love.

-- A.W., age 32
(completed Post-partum Renewal Program using the InTone biofeedback/stim unit)

Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

Read more: Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

Testimonial by S.B.

As someone who suffered the debilitating physical and emotional effects of vaginismus (as well as a complicated history of back injuries) for more than 15 years, I thought a "normal" life was just a fantasy. Then I found Heather.

Read more: Testimonial by S.B.

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Mary L.

I started seeing Heather to treat my Interstitial Cystitis in November 2016. At this time, I was extremely miserable, in constant pain, and felt as though no one was listening or understood what was going on with my body. I have just finished my last appointment and I can honestly say that my life has completely changed for the better because of Heather and her team of PTs! I live almost completely pain free, and when I do have flare ups, I am able to treat them at home on my own. I am so grateful that this office was recommended to me a honestly cannot recommend them enough!

Read more: Testimonial by Mary L.

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