Infertility Fast Facts
Couples approximately in the United States, or 10 percent of all couples of childbearing age, have difficulty conceiving.
When the uterine lining, or endometrium, that normally is found inside of the uterus grows outside of that area, it is called endometriosis. Common places where endometriosis develops are on the ovaries, bowel, and pelvis. Endometriosis acts like the endometrium in your uterus during your menstrual cycle. It thickens, sloughs off, and bleeds. Because there is no way for the tissue to leave the body, it can irritate surrounding tissues, leading to the development of scarring and adhesions.
The most common symptoms of endometriosis are (but not limited to) pain with menstruation, pain with intercourse, and infertility. With endometriosis, you may have a heavier period. Intensity of symptoms does not, however, correlate with the severity of the disease. A woman with very severe endometriosis may have symptoms that would lead a doctor to believe that the endometriosis was actually a mild case.
The only way for your physician to diagnosis endometriosis is with laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopy, an outpatient surgical procedure, enables your physician to evaluate your pelvic organs to see if any endometrial implants are present. If endometriosis is found, your physician can identify the location and extent of the disease.
Factors that put a woman at a higher risk for endometriosis are: family history of endometriosis, menstrual bleeding lasting longer than eight days, any condition that would cause difficulty in the passage of blood during menses, and a history of pelvic infections. Endometriosis can impair fertility, and one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty conceiving
The treatment options that your doctor presents to you are based upon the severity of the signs and symptoms. For example, if you have very severe endometriosis, your physician may recommend that you move right into in-vitro fertilization (IVF), but if your symptoms are not as severe, the doctor may recommend trying on your own first.
Although endometriosis can be a complex and complicated disease, many options exist, from a fertility standpoint, which can help patients achieve their dreams of having successful outcomes.