Endometriosis is a common cause of infertility and is often accompanied by severe menstrual cramps, painful bowel movements or urination, pain during intercourse, and pelvic pain. Endometriosis may exist without pain, yet still cause infertility.
Endometriosis occurs when the cells that line the uterus, which form the endometrium, grow on and attach to organs outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries, bladder, and intestines. When endometriosis attaches to reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes and ovaries, it can cause obstruction or total blockage, which can prevent successful reproduction.
Women with endometriosis who want to get pregnant will see a reproductive endocrinologist—a specialist with years of advanced training in delicate microsurgical techniques—for laparoscopic surgery. This procedure aims to remove all of the endometrial growths with laser technology.
Women who experience pain following surgery, have remaining growths, or experience a recurrence of endometriosis symptoms may be prescribed Lupron, a drug that inhibits the production of estrogen, thus “starving” the endometrial cells. If damage to reproductive organs, such as the fallopian tubes is severe, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may be the best treatment option to achieve pregnancy.
The cause of endometriosis is not entirely known, but it is believed to have both an immunity component and a genetic component, as children of women with endometriosis are more likely to also get the disease.
Learn more about the treatments for infertility caused by endometriosis by visiting UAB Medicine’s Fertility Program page.