Endometriosis – The Unknown cause of infertility

Endometriosis – The Unknown cause of infertility

In all my years of talking to others about having children, I never guessed I might receive an infertility diagnosis.

It’s an odd thing how the mind plays tricks on you, or maybe it simply prevents you from living out a trauma before it happens.  Growing a family and becoming a mom is a lifelong dream of mine. 

When it was finally my turn to get pregnant, we did not dwell too much on the fact that something could go wrong.

The larger scientific and reproductive endocrinology community knows little about endometriosis, and what we do know still remains a large and complex maze. Women’s health issues and diseases tend to go under the radar and what we do know is endometriosis exists in approximately 1 in 10 women. 

Endometriosis is a debilitating disease where cells of the endometrium are found outside the uterus in the peritoneal cavity or attached to other organs like the lungs, bowel, and bladder. This is a problem because when these endometrial cells are found outside of where they are supposed to live in the endometrium of the uterus.  Then, we receive an inflammatory reaction which leads to an inflammatory response.  You can often see this response on laparoscopy as a brownish mixture, and it is filled with immune response cells like macrophages, white blood cells, and an increase in cytokines (proteins).

This is an issuefor two reasons:

  • Endometriosis covers the eggs, and it can impact the tubes and sperm.
  • The inflammatory response can cause the inability for an embryo to implant or grow (early loss or failed transfer cycles).

However, there are symptomsthat are key to identifying the disease:

  • Significant pain with menstruation
  • Pelvic pain outside of menstruation (often said to feel like a burning sensation)
  • Pain or pressure during intercourse
  • Pain with ovulation
  • Cramping after an orgasm (dysorgasmia)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Infertility and pregnancy loss
  • Depression

50% of infertile women are known to have endometriosis and fertility specialists face a great deal of complexity when treating infertility patients with endometriosis due to a lack of compelling and conclusive data.

When it comes to treatment options for women with endometriosis, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be the best treatment option in terms of pregnancy success rates.  The use of medication, Letrozole, for both stimulation and transfer cycles work well for women with endometriosis because it helps with the inflammatory impact of endometriosis on both eggs and the endometrial lining.

Overall, endometriosis does impact fertility and for many patients and we still do not know the primary cause of infertility with endometriosis. Is it an egg quality issue, or is it an issue with the altered environment of the endometrial lining of the uterus?

One thing we do know is fertility specialists have hands-on experience working with women who are battling infertility and endometriosis.  You do not need to fight this alone.  Please call IVF Canada and our friendly staff can guide you through your fertility journey.  Book a consultation today!  

Are you1 in 10?