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Endometriosis and Fertility: Statistics, Facts, & Fiction

Debunking the Myths Surrounding Endometriosis and Reproduction

Disinformation about endometriosis and how it can impact reproduction is thick. As a matter of fact, not just endometriosis and fertility, the entire disorder is shrouded in junk information, and so it often goes misunderstood and mistreated. To learn more on this topic, read our previous article, titled: “Endometriosis Facts and Myths: Dispelling the Misconceptions.”

Does endometriosis cause infertility? In some cases, yes. However, in most cases, women with endometriosis can and do get pregnant without any medical assistance or intervention of any kind. There is still a myth that if you become pregnant, that can manage the endometriosis (endo) symptoms and even help resolve disease progression. 

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s an example of a widespread myth about endometriosis and fertility. Furthermore, this school of thought can put additional pressure on women with endometriosis to get pregnant as quickly as possible once they get a diagnosis. As you can imagine, this dangerous misinformation can alter their expectations in terms of treatment for fertility and their outlook on endometriosis in general.

So, Can You Get Pregnant If You Have Endometriosis?

The real truth is that the connection between endometriosis and reproduction is complex. Can you get pregnant if you have endometriosis? Yes, many people can and do. However, having the right endometriosis specialist to help you along the way can make all the difference in your journey. Click here to learn more about finding vetted endo specialists near you. In this article, we will review the disease and lay out the facts regarding endometriosis and fertility.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an inflammatory disorder in which tissue similar to the uterus lining grows in places outside the uterus. Often these growths happen on the surface of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or other organs within the pelvic cavity – such as the bladder or bowel. In some cases, these endometriosis growths have occurred in distant organs.

Endo growths can cause pain, scarring, and sometimes infertility. Because this tissue is similar to the uterine lining, it also bleeds and sheds once a month during hormonal changes. Typically in the uterus, this period tissue and blood have a means of escaping through the vagina. However, this blood and tissue often accumulate inside the body with endometriosis and causes inflammation and pain. As one can imagine, over time, scar tissue growths with subsequent menstrual cycles develop. Eventually, this scar tissue can fuse organs, immobilize organs, and even damage the fallopian tubes.

Alarming Statistics About Endometriosis & Fertility 

  1. Endometriosis is widespread, affecting between six and ten percent of the general female population. That’s more than 170 million worldwide.
  2. In patients with pelvic pain, infertility, or both, endometriosis frequency is higher – between 35 percent to 50 percent.
  3. Between 25 percent to 50 percent of infertile women have endometriosis.
  4. Between 30 percent to 50 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile.
  5. Endometriosis affects approximately the same number of women around the world that have diabetes.
  6. The cost of endometriosis in the US is between $86 Bn – $116 Bn. 
  7. It takes, on average, eight years from the onset of symptoms for a patient to get a diagnosis. This can impact all patients, but especially those of who wish to keep their fertility intact.

Endometriosis Facts About Fertility and Reproduction

  1. There are ways to get pregnant with endometriosis.
  2. Hormonal therapy does not cure endo. 
  3. Endometriosis is related to your menstrual cycle and hormonal changes within your body. 
  4. Endometriosis tissue can be removed during laparoscopy. Depending on the location of the growths and the extent of damage, this can sometimes restore fertility.
  5. There is a type of endometriosis that can cause cancerous lesions, typically dark chocolate brown. 
  6. The causes are uncertain, and there is no “cure” for endometriosis.
  7. Genes seem to play a role in the occurrence of endo. 

Myths About Endometriosis and Fertility 

  1. Pregnancy is not a cure or a way to relieve symptoms of endometriosis. Women should not be pressured or encouraged to get pregnant to help with endometriosis and fertility or alleviate pain or other symptoms. While some women experience less endo pain and symptoms during their period, that does not mean it works the same for all women.
  2. Do not believe any physician that tells you a hysterectomy is the “gold standard” treatment for endometriosis. As mentioned above, there is no “cure” for endometriosis. Until a specialist is inside the body and can view the number and the placement of the endometriosis lesions, they cannot decide whether a hysterectomy would even solve the problems. Also, some women might make themselves infertile (whether they mind or not, it is an emotional part of this disorder) by having a hysterectomy done that was never needed. 
  3. You do not need to have a major medical procedure to get an endometriosis diagnosis or remove some growths and lesions. With modern equipment, skilled specialists, and advanced technology (often robotic surgical equipment), you can have endometriosis diagnosis and treatment with laparoscopy. This type of procedure is minimally invasive and only leaves behind a few puncture wounds. 
  4. Abortion does not cause endometriosis. 
  5. Endometriosis does not cause ovarian cancer. Although a type of endo involves cancerous tumors, this does not mean that having endometriosis makes you more likely to develop cancer.
  6. The most important myth to bust is that there is no treatment for endometriosis. Just because there is no “cure” for this pelvic inflammatory disorder does not mean there are no treatment options, even when it comes to endometriosis and infertility.

If you have endometriosis, what is the most common thing you have heard regarding endo and reproduction?

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