Endometriosis? Pregnancy’s Still Possible!

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If you have endometriosis, you may have more difficulty becoming pregnant. In fact, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, up to half of women with endometriosis may experience infertility. But don’t despair.

You can take steps to improve your chances of a successful pregnancy.

How Does Endometriosis Affect Fertility?

Endometriosis can affect a woman's fertility several ways:Endometriosis - Pregnancy’s Still Possible - In Content  

  • Abnormal pelvic anatomy
  • Adhesions, or scar tissue
  • Scarred fallopian tubes
  • Pelvic inflammation
  • Improper immune system functioning
  • Changes in the hormonal development of eggs
  • Embryos that fail to implant in the uterus
  • Eggs that don't develop properly

Boosting Your Chances of Getting Pregnant

“Women with endometriosis can get pregnant,” says Heather Hilkowitz, MD, Hilltop Obstetrics & Gynecology. “It may be a little more of a challenge in some patients depending on how severe the condition is. But there are lots of different ways, medications and procedures that can be used for women who need them to achieve pregnancy in a minimally invasive way.”

If you opt for surgery, your doctor can evaluate your endometriosis and give you a score, which will tell you if your endometriosis is minimal (Stage 1), mild (Stage 2), moderate (Stage 3) or severe (Stage 4). The higher your score, the more difficulty you may have in becoming pregnant.

During surgery, if your doctor sees endometriosis, she will surgically destroy or remove the endometriosis and any scar tissue. If your endometriosis is minimal or mild, removing the affected tissue can increase your chances of becoming pregnant naturally, without any additional procedures.

“Women with endometriosis can get pregnant.”

Understandably, women with more advanced endometriosis (Stage 3 and 4) will have the most difficulty becoming pregnant. But even in these cases, surgery can restore your normal pelvic anatomy so your ovaries and fallopian tubes work more normally. Removing large areas of endometrial tissue with surgery may also boost fertility.

Keep in mind, though, that there is a limit as to how much surgery can improve fertility rates. Every woman’s treatment is different and designed for her specific needs. Ask your doctor to explain all available options to help you get pregnant.

Dr. Hilkowitz talks about how women with endometriosis can get pregnant.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

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Heather L. Hilkowitz, MD

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Small Steps: Know the easy terms.
Egg: The female reproductive cell produced in the ovaries