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Infertility is the most dreaded consequence of endometriosis. How can you assess your chances of getting pregnant if you have been diagnosed with the disease, and what can you do to swing the odds in your favor?

One of the biggest fears of women who have been diagnosed with endometriosis is that they will not be able to get pregnant. You may have more of a chance then you think, fortunately, especially when you consider artificial reproductive techniques. 

Endometriosis — A Brief Overview

Endometriosis is a female reproductive disease that affects approximately 178 women worldwide. In women with the disease, the tissue that should line only the uterus — and that is usually expelled during a woman's menstrual period — has invaded other organs too. The fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder and intestines are the most common examples of affected organs.

Endometrial tissues that can't be shed during menstruation, because they are outside of the uterus, obviously lead to problems within the reproductive system. Cysts, adhesions or scars, and invasive nodules are all possible results of endometriosis. One consequence of endometriosis is blocked fallopian tubes; something that can lead to both infertility and ectopic pregnancy.

While some women with endometriosis suffer such symptoms as pelvic pain, painful sexual intercourse, and irregular vaginal bleeding, others do not have any noticeable symptoms. For some, the inability to get pregnant is the very first indication that they may have endometriosis.

Endometriosis Infertility Statistics

The statistics concerning endometriosis and infertility speak for themselves:

  • 25 to 50 percent of all infertile women suffer from endometriosis.

  • 30 to 50 percent of women with endometriosis are infertile.

  • Nine to 50 percent of women who undergo a laparoscopy to evaluate infertility suffer from endometriosis.

  • 30 to 80 percent of women who suffer from regular pelvic pain have endometriosis

  • Healthy couples have a 15 to 20 percent chance of getting pregnant within a given menstrual cycle, while those couples in which the female partner has endometriosis have a two to 10 percent chance of conceiving during a given month.

These statistics come from scientific studies examining infertility and endometriosis (you can find sources in the link box below, if you're interested in reading more). Despite the fact that these figures suggest a strong link between infertility and endometriosis, the exact mechanism by which the disease leads to infertility is everything but clear.

There are a few theories, as always. Women with endometriosis may have altered hormonal and ovulatory function, resulting in a luteal phase dysfunction. This is when the second part of the menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, is too short to allow a fertilized egg to implant into the lining of the uterus. Then, it is also possible that the endometrium within the uterus reacts abnormally, making it hard for a fertilized egg to implant. It is also feasible that eggs transport differently from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes into the uterus. This is definitely the case in women who have blocked fallopian tubes as the result of endometriosis, but can also happen in women with apparently normally functioning tubes.

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